Sox flex their muscles in Miami
Ramírez, Ortiz provide power in rout of Marlins
MIAMI -- Dolphin Stadium, which by name alone reminds the Marlins of their secondary status here to the football team, is not exactly waterfront property. It's almost as close to the Everglades as it is to the Atlantic Ocean.
But a little thing like geography couldn't keep Manny Ramírez and David Ortiz from turning it into their personal Muscle Beach. They didn't even have to import bikinis, Marlins management long ago having decided that there's nothing like a scantily clad dance team to give it the feel of a night at the ballyard.
A day after the Marlins treated the Red Sox like the proverbial 98-pound weakling, ending Boston's 12-game winning streak, the Sox struck back with a vengeance, bashing the Floridians, 11-5, before a crowd of 38,014 that was treated to a Home Run Derby nine days before the real one in Pittsburgh.
Ramírez and Ortiz hit two home runs apiece -- Manny in the first, Papi in the third, Papi in the fourth, Manny in the sixth (the last three coming off former Sox prospect Anibal Sanchez) -- before both strongmen were given the rest of the night off.
Having hit two homers apiece in the same game for the second time with the Sox -- Ortiz raising his season total to 25 (one behind league leader Jim Thome) Ramírez up to 22, including six in his last dozen games -- both players took advantage of Terry Francona's early-release program to leave before the clubhouse doors were opened to outsiders.
But there are other ways of gauging the players' reaction to their show of force. Third base coach DeMarlo Hale sees it every time they go deep.
``Papi kind of smacks his hands, smacks his hands wide open, he just gives a real flat hand out so I can smack it," Hale said of how Ortiz makes his turn around third base after a homer. ``Manny comes around so fast sometimes, I'm backing up. I just get a hand out there and he shakes it and keeps going. These guys don't have a lot of handshakes and rituals. They act like they've done it before."
While souvenir collectors had a field day, so did hardball historians. Ramírez's first home run, a three-run, opposite-field number off Marlins starter Brian Moehler that landed a dozen or so rows inside the right-field foul pole, was the 2,000th hit of his career. If Ramírez wanted a token from his night, the crack Marlins staff successfully retrieved the ball from an accommodating fan, one Ron Muram of neighboring Lauderhill, who gave it up for two baseballs and the promise of an autographed bat signed by the author of the moment.
What's customary on notable Sox occasions is for Tim Wakefield, who surely was the kid in his class with the most gold stars for penmanship, to inscribe a ball with the pertinent info. But with Wakefield last night collecting his 150th career win, who does the honors when it's his turn?
``Me," said Wakefield (6-8), who left with an 11-3 advantage with two out in the sixth, his teammates having reversed a trend of scant support by giving him big leads as parting gifts in each of his last three outings -- 8-1 against the Nationals and 6-0 against the Phillies before last night.
There also was some history made for which no one was asking for a keepsake. In the first inning, as former Sox prospect Hanley Ramirez was stealing second base, catcher Doug Mirabelli's throw sailed into center field for an error, allowing Ramirez to advance to third. For those scoring at home, that was an E-2, ending the Sox' major league record for consecutive errorless games at 17.
Moments later, Alex Gonzalez backhanded a ball at short and heaved it well beyond his intended target of second base on an attempted force, ending his club-record streak of errorless games at 57. The error was just his second of the season, and first since April 9 in Baltimore.
``It was exciting, breaking the record," said Gonzalez, who said he never had a proper grip on the ball. ``That's not the last error I'm going to make. Just forget about it, keep working hard."
It was Ortiz won first place in the oohs-and-aahs division. His first home run, leading off the third inning, landed on the dark-blue tarpaulin beyond the teal-blue center-field fence, a tee shot estimated at 429 feet. An inning later, with Coco Crisp aboard via a walk, Ortiz pulled another blast into the right-field seats. Tale of the imaginary tape on that one: 412 feet.
In the sixth, Ortiz narrowly missed his third home run of the game, something he's never done in his big-league career, his opposite-field drive just failing to clear the scoreboard, which is cut like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle, instead of in your standard rectangular shape. A few feet higher, it was a home run. A few feet to the right, it would have cleared the advertising sign that separates the AL scores from the board detailing the visitors' lineup.
He had to settle for a double, which was poaching on Mike Lowell's turf. The Sox third baseman, who set the Marlins' career record for doubles (241) when he played here, doubled on three consecutive at-bats. That was a return to his early-season form in which it appeared Lowell would challenge Earl Webb for the all-time record in two-base hits. Lowell began the night third in the league with 26 doubles, but until last night only five of his last 27 hits had gone for extra bases.
``You know, sometimes in this ballpark, the ball carries very well," said former Marlin Gonzalez. ``In BP, Papi hit a lot of balls really far. I told him before BP, `This ballpark, at this time, the ball can carry very well.' I played here seven years. I hit two balls into the upper deck. A lot of wind, sometimes it carries the ball everywhere."