Coming into today, there was a bit of a spotlight on Hanley Ramirez, and not in a positive way. The first baseman had spent the last month scuffling mightily at the plate, leading many to ask what was wrong, and what the Red Sox were going to do about it. It's frankly amazing how it all seemed ready to come to a head tonight, with Farrell having to come out and voice his support for Ramirez before the game.
It's amazing because tonight was Hanley's night in pretty much every way.
Look, he hit a homer. My God did he ever hit a homer. The Red Sox were already up 3-0 when Ramirez came to the plate for the second time on the night. The first time through the order had seen Travis Shaw double home Ramirez himself to put the Sox ahead 1-0, and the second time through started with Kevin Gausman getting hacked to bits by ground balls. That brought Ramirez to the plate with two on and still no outs in the inning, and, well...
So that's the lion's share of Hanley's contributions to the scoreboard. But Gausman was actually the second man in Fenway Park that Hanley destroyed that night. The first? A fan who had called him out for failing to catch a foul ball. Hanley naturally found an opportunity to toss him a ball at the end of the inning, The fan came up empty, and Hanley took him to task for it.
Not long after, with two on and two out in the top of the third, Manny Machado hit a pop-up that Hanley got under just in front of Boston's dugout to end the inning. He did not miss his opportunity:
Hanley just tossed it to guy again. Dude yells "I caught it."— Gary Striewski (@garystriewski) June 16, 2016
Hanley: "me too"
This saga is better than Twilite
Hanley could've gone 0-for-5 and still won the night. But damn if this story isn't made better by him putting the exclamation mark on that rally.
And it's a good thing he did, too! The Red Sox, after all, didn't do much else on the night, as Baltimore's bullpen held them scoreless over the next five innings, even if they did pick up seven baserunners along the way, striking out only once. And while for a long time it seemed like Steven Wright could've held a 1-0 lead, in the seventh Adam Jones got to him for a two-run shot. Wright stayed in for the eighth, but only lasted two batters, getting the hook after allowing a walk to Chris Davis. Junichi Tazawa entered and gave up a couple hits to let the Orioles pull within two before he finally escaped.
But that just left Craig Kimbrel with a job to do, and the closer did it well, retiring the Orioles in order, locking up a pretty bi win for the Red Sox against their division foes, and ensuring they'd have a chance to finish the series with the AL East lead should they pull off another win on Thursday.
But for all the work of Wright and Kimbrel and the other four hitters ahead of Ramirez with two hits a piece, tonight was Hanley's night.