Orioles on wrong end of history
Bradford give up 500th home run of Ramirez's career
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles were treated to a little slice of history on Saturday night, when Boston slugger Manny Ramirez crushed a Chad Bradford offering over the wall for his 500th career home run. The milestone homer gave the Red Sox an insurance run in their 6-3 victory, and Ramirez was treated to a rare hero's welcome in a road stadium.
The Camden Yards crowd erupted after the home run, but Ramirez never came out for a curtain call. Instead he received another thunderous ovation when he trotted out to left field in the bottom of the seventh inning. Ramirez, normally the most reticent of superstars, acknowledged the raucous crowd reaction by tipping his cap.
"I think that goes on in any stadium," said Kevin Millar, Ramirez's former teammate. "He's an All-Star, and the media hypes these things up. Ken Griffey Jr.'s going for 600, Manny's going for 500. It just ironically happened that he fell here at 499."
"Congratulations to Ramirez on his 500th," added Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "That's a tremendous milestone for his career and for baseball. We didn't keep the ball in the ballpark, [but] I thought we swung the bat better. We needed a couple more timely hits. We didn't put zeros up on the board after we scored, which I thought was detrimental."
The homer, momentous though it was, was less important than a run that scored right before it. The Red Sox (34-24) went into the seventh with the game tied at 3, but leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury tripled off reliever Lance Cormier (0-2). Cormier got one out on a ground ball, but Baltimore (26-28) then went to Jamie Walker, who gave up a go-ahead sacrifice fly to David Ortiz.
One pitching change and one pitch later, Ramirez entered the record books.
""I'm proud of myself -- I worked so hard for all this," said Ramirez. "Especially my family, I want to thank my family for all this support. Especially my teammates. Without them, it wouldn't be happening. ... It's nice to be part of history."
Ramirez did it off Bradford, perhaps the least likely pitcher on Baltimore's staff for this to happen to. The right-handed submariner had allowed just five home runs since the beginning of the 2005 season, and he hadn't allowed a home run to a right-handed hitter since May 2006. Bradford left the clubhouse before reporters were allowed inside, but Millar pointed out the disparity.
"[Ramirez has] one of the prettiest swings in baseball to right-center," Millar said. "And like I've said, doing it against a guy like Chad Bradford is even more amazing, because Chad doesn't give up a whole lot of home runs to right-handers."
"Once again, the matchups were such, and you think you've got the right situation," said Trembley. "When it doesn't work out, you feel terrible about it. But you could see from last night and tonight that Ramirez's approach was that he was very aggressive swinging on first pitches. Probably the worst thing in the world that we did was throw him a strike. It probably would've been better if we threw him every ball out of the strike zone tonight, because he seemed like he wanted to get it over with."
The Orioles controlled the early innings but weren't able to hold on late. Starter Garrett Olson stranded runners in scoring position in three of his five innings but was victimized by back-to-back home runs in the third. Dustin Pedroia and Ortiz both took Olson deep, marking just the second time in the rookie's career that he's given up two homers.
"I just challenged them and left a couple of pitches over the plate," Olson said. "That happens sometimes, and I think that's better than walking them. I don't consider that giving in. I challenged them through the strike zone, and they hit it out."
"He didn't have as good finish on his pitches as I'd seen earlier," said Trembley. "He competed, [but] the ball was up somewhat. Probably the one pitch he wants back is the one to Ortiz. I thought Pedroia hit a good pitch."
Boston's Jon Lester matched Olson in innings but left with a one-run deficit. Lester, who pitched a no-hitter just two starts ago, fell behind in the second inning. Outfielders Jay Payton and Adam Jones both hit run-scoring singles in that rally, and second baseman Brian Roberts hit a go-ahead homer in the fifth.
Trembley had seen enough of Olson after five innings and elected to go to his bullpen. Cormier got a quick out, then he hit a batter and balked the runner over to second. Two singles -- one by Mike Lowell and one by Kevin Youkilis -- forced the tying run home, setting the stage for Ramirez to make history.
Boston accounted for the final margin by pushing home one final run in the eighth inning.
"I thought it was time to turn it over to the bullpen with those right-handed bats coming up," Trembley said. "I really didn't want to see us get beat in a matchup situation with the middle of their lineup and predominantly right-handed hitters against Olson, who had already given up two home run balls. Really, I'm looking for three outs there from Cormier."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.