THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
Bob Ryan

A rundown now added to this thoroughly interesting game

Youkilis on win

Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis talks about the come-from-behind victory over the Twins, including Manny Ramirez's home run to tie the game in the eighth inning and Brandon Moss's go-ahead RBI hit.
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Bob Ryan
Globe Columnist / July 9, 2008

Brandon Moss drove in the winning run in last night's 6-5 conquest of the Minnesota Twins, but you know the happy fans went home talking about the guy we can't go two minutes without talking about in this town.

For it was a 5-3 ballgame when Manny Ramírez came to the plate with Dustin Pedroia on second base in the eighth. One pitch later, the game was tied, a Matt Guerrier offering having been deposited over the Wall way out there in left-center. It was Manny Being Manny, Part whatever.

"It was nice to see him hit the ball out of the ballpark," said manager Terry Francona. "[Monday] night, it was what we needed. Infield's in, and he lines it to right. But sometimes you need a home run."

Ramirez's winning hit Monday night, also in the eighth inning, was a single, but last night it was that homer, his first in 10 games and only his third in the last 25. Seeing people throw fastballs past him had become a regular occurrence.

But there will have to be many, many more fastballs thrown past this man before anyone on the outside stops worrying about Manny Ramírez.

"I'll bet if you ask the other managers out there, regardless of how he's going, they're not in a rush to pitch to him," Francona observed.

Ron Gardenhire might very well be one of those managers.

"I think it's 5-3, isn't it?" the Twins skipper said. "You can't give in to Manny, no matter who it is. With that left-field wall, if you throw a fastball up, he hits it out of the ballpark. That's just a bad pitch and you have a tie ballgame. That's how quick it happens here in this ballpark, and Manny's the guy that can do it. You've got to make him hit it the other way if he's going to hit it out. And he just missed. He threw a terrible pitch."

That very definitely sounds like a man who retains a healthy respect for Manny Ramírez.

But there was a lot more going on in this game than just Manny. Entering the eighth, this had been a Minnesota night. The Twins had taken leads of 3-1, 4-1, and 5-2 behind the pitching of Nick Blackburn. They were getting great production from the bottom of the order, where Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, Nick Punto, and Denard Span had gone 8 for 16 with five runs batted in and three scored.

But it was still Fenway, and the Red Sox at least had the top of the order coming up.

Jacoby Ellsbury started things off with a double into the left-field corner. Gardenhire called it a "bloop," but that reflects a losing manager's point of view. The skipper didn't think much of the next hit, either, a Dustin Pedroia bleeder over the head of second baseman Alexi Casilla. "I don't think [Guerrier] can make a better pitch, and he reaches out and flips one over the second baseman's head," sighed Gardenhire. All that mattered to Francona, meanwhile, was that he had men on first and third with Nos. 3-4-5 coming up.

J.D. Drew brought home the third run with a grounder to the right side. Manny you know about.

Mike Lowell fanned for the second out, but Kevin Youkilis, who already had singled and tripled (a majestic clout high off the Wall in deepest left-center), hit another ball to left-center. Young, the left fielder, couldn't quite get there. Carlos Gomez, the center fielder, made a dive for it, to no avail. Youkilis had a double.

So there was Brandon Moss, with a chance to help the cause. Let's just say Gardenhire wasn't too thrilled with the way Guerrier handled that at-bat, which featured a wild pitch that advanced Youk to third.

"We were trying to pitch around the little lefthander [Moss], and we talked about walking him," Gardenhire revealed. "Matty thought he could pitch around him, bounce the ball, and see if he would chase. He threw a terrible pitch there, too, right down the middle."

Moss jumped on that "terrible pitch," lining one into center field to bring home Youkilis with the go-ahead run.

"I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit, keep the inning going," Moss said. "Just trying to do whatever I could to keep the inning going."

It was not lost on Francona that the inning had begun with the table-setters putting out the fine china, just like they're supposed to.

"If we don't get to that point [Manny up with someone on], it doesn't happen," Francona said. "A lot of good things happened in that inning. A lot of good at-bats."

And how about that Minny ninth? How about Nick Punto battling Jonathan Papelbon right into pitch No. 12 before dumping one into center that wound up as a leadoff double when Coco Crisp elected to try for a diving catch and failed to come up with the ball?

What is it with these no-names and quasi-names like Brett Gardner and Nick Punto giving The Papster so much trouble lately? Are they, like, anti-Riverdance or something?

"It was a great at-bat, but Pap made good pitches and sometimes there's a reason why they're going to win a lot of games," reasoned Francona. "[The Twins] play until it's all over. They always have."

When Span sacrificed Punto to third, the tying run was 90 feet away, as they say. But Papelbon fanned pinch hitter Jason Kubel and got Casilla on a grounder to second, with Pedroia making the game-ending throw from his knees. Nice dramatic flourish, kid.

It was the fourth straight one-run game for the Red Sox, and Papelbon has worked in the last three, losing one and saving two. So you'd kinda, hafta think he'll be out of this afternoon's game, eh, skipper?

"If you don't tell Gardy," joked Francona.

Don't worry about Gardy. He's still fuming about the way his pitcher messed up that eighth inning.

Bob Ryan is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at ryan@globe.com.

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