BALTIMORE -- Perhaps because he didn't like the scent of his recent cold streak at the plate, a playful Hanley Ramirez walked around the Red Sox clubhouse before Saturday night's game burning incense.Ramirez was in an even better mood by the time he returned to the clubhouse postgame.By then, the
BALTIMORE -- Perhaps because he didn't like the scent of his recent cold streak at the plate, a playful Hanley Ramirez walked around the Red Sox clubhouse before Saturday night's game burning incense.
Ramirez was in an even better mood by the time he returned to the clubhouse postgame.
By then, the sweet scent in the air was of a 5-2 victory for the Red Sox over the Orioles which included a two-run homer and rocket RBI double by Ramirez.
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For the 30-25 Red Sox to get where they need to be in both the short and long term of this season, they need Ramirez bashing the ball like he did on Saturday.
"He's so important to the middle of our lineup, so it was a big night for him, and it came at an opportune time," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.
Entering Saturday's game, Ramirez had no homers and no RBIs and a .162 average in his previous 31 at-bats.
With the game locked in a scoreless tie through three, Ramirez belted a two-run homer to left on an 0-2 curveball by Dylan Bundy to give winning pitcher David Price the lead in the fourth.
"It's what we're looking for as a hitter, mistakes," said Ramirez. "That's what it is. It's a good thing I didn't miss it."
Bundy lamented the misfire, which might have been exacerbated by Mitch Moreland's 11-pitch flyout the batter before.
"They wore you down, and then you leave a pitch over the middle, but I had the hammer down 0-2 and all I had to do is bounce it and it's a different at-bat," said Bundy. "If I do bounce it and he takes it, it's a ball and I can start over. But you can't take it back."
When Ramirez was at his lethal best down the stretch in 2016, a pitcher paid pretty much every time a mistake like that was made.
In the eighth Saturday, Ramirez clocked a 92.8-mph two-seamer by Ubaldo Jimnez into the corner in left for the RBI double that gave the Red Sox a 4-1 cushion. The exit velocity according to Statcast™ was 110.9-mph, the hardest hit of Saturday's game.
"Another fastball. I don't know what to say. I got lucky," Ramirez said.
Considering Ramirez had 111 RBIs last season, it was somewhat surprising that this was the first time he has knocked in three runs in a game this season. It was enough to make you wonder if the right shoulder ailment that has prevented Ramirez from playing first base has contributed to his slow start.
"He's got a lot of maintenance on that shoulder, as we know, but I think it's been more timing versus anything that's restricting him," said Farrell. "Like all of our players, they've got maintenance that they've got to do physically. But more than anything, it was great to see swings he put on the ball tonight."
What people forget about Ramirez's monster season of a year ago is that by June 3, he only had four homers and 32 RBIs.
After Saturday's strong night -- played on June 3 -- he is slashing .259/.362/.426 with seven homers and 23 RBIs. There is plenty of time for Ramirez to put it together.
"He'll get hot," said Price. "This is a tough game. We all have confidence in Hanley."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.