Boston Red Sox slugger Hanley Ramirez had his best performance last night, defensively and offensively, showing why he was called Han-Ram so many years ago.
Last night’s game against the San Francisco Giants will quite possibly go down as the stuff of legend in both Boston and the Dominican Republic. A Samana native, Ramirez seemed inspired by the fact that ESPN’s Wednesday Night Baseball coverage was part of their Global Game series, discussing the Dominican’s influence on the game of baseball. The announcers mentioned how they spoke to Hanley about it, and he said that “he needed to call some people” to get them to set their DVRs ready to record a big night.
And, he was right; it was definitely a big night, especially for the Han-Ram. After a laundry list of injuries escorted Ramirez out of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, he signed last season with the Red Sox, the team who originally drafted him over 11 seasons ago. The contract was worth $88 million, lasting through the 2018 season; however, more injuries and poor play in left field made Boston fans feel like it was a bust of a business deal. Hanley was laughable making the transition from being an All-Star shortstop to left field, being compared to Manny Ramirez‘s Manny being Manny-level of defense. He also hit just .249 with 19 home runs and 53 RBIs. Not exactly worthy of the Han-Ram nickname, when he was destroying any pitch that got in his way earlier in his career.
In the bottom of the second inning, on a full count, Ramirez opened the scoring as he belted a 91-mph fastball from Giants pitcher Matt Cain over to the right field bullpen, causing Mac Williamson to tumble, a la Torii Hunter, over the fence. The home run also scored fellow Dominican native David Ortiz, who was proud of his teammate and celebrated with their traditional bashing of the arms technique, as only strong MLB warriors do.
It didn’t take long for another celebration, as the bottom of the third inning saw much of the same. The same Cain 91-mph fastball, this time on a two-two count, was absolutely punished for repeating history. As the ball cleared the center field wall, over 38 thousand people in Fenway Park, both Red Sox Nation and the many Giants fans in attendance, knew that they were watching something special happening and applauded, some regardless of affiliation.
The home run signalled the end of Cain’s night, but it wasn’t the end of Han-Ram’s journey. Albert Suarez, who came in to relieve Cain, had allowed three runs to score after the second Ramirez homer and was feeling the pressure in the bottom of the fourth, too. On a one-one count, Suarez plugged Ramirez in the left elbow, trying to pitch Han-Ram inside.
Han-Ram snarled, not happy with the Giants reliever, but eventually took his free pass to first base. Ramirez always wears padding on that elbow because he knows that pitchers want to throw inside to him, so that he can’t extend his arms through the swings for big hits. The fact that Han-Ram had already hit two homers, however, lingered in his mind and many minds of Red Sox Nation, thinking that the pitch may have been payback.
Deesha Thosar of MLB.com reported Ramirez saying after the game, “Every time I get hit, that fires me up […] I think it makes me a better player when I get hit, because I get so angry. You know, sometimes Hanley’s just not Hanley. It’s somebody else.”
Instead of trying to take revenge with his bat, taking huge swings with total disregard for striking out in the situation, Ramirez got back at the Giants with his glove.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Red Sox found that they had let the Giants back into the game, allowing seven runs and struggling to get out of this latest frame as well. With the bases loaded, Gregor Blanco grounded sharply to first, making everyone convinced that the ball would blow by Ramirez and head for extra bases, scoring even more runs for the Giants. Instead, Ramirez picked the ball off of the skid immediately, then quickly stepped on the bag before throwing a strike of his own to catcher Sandy Leon to tag out Brandon Belt. The play was reviewed but the call stood, to the sight of Han-Ram’s aggressive roar and fist pump.
The warrior spirit within Ramirez was now unleashed, looking for more prey to destroy. Han-Ram proved that he wasn’t that weak defender so many so-called experts thought he was. Yet, Suarez was the one who hit him with the pitch, not Belt or Blanco. Han-Ram still was looking to satisfy his hunger for revenge.
He got it in the bottom of the same inning.
Up came Suarez to fulfill Han-Ram’s quest. On the very first pitch, Ramirez absolutely annihilated the sacrificial offering, a line drive homer over the Green Monster. The hit looked like it was headed back to Los Angeles, a call to everyone in the baseball world that the real Han-Ram had finally returned.
The Red Sox may have won the game 11-7, taking sole possession of first place in the American League East division, but that’s mere bonus material for this heroic tale. After vanquishing his enemies in battle, Hanley walked over the plate in victory, but Ortiz wasn’t there to greet him as he often does. When Hanley returned to the dugout, after hitting his third home run of the game, Ortiz didn’t celebrate in their customary manner. No, he embraced his brother-in-arms, knowing how much this game meant to them and all of their fellow Dominicans back home.
In an interview the night before the game, ESPN analyst Doug Glanville said that he “discussed this project [of the Global Game Series] with Hanley and his time in Boston, stating how ‘he seemed happier this year,’ especially from the stresses from last season.” Glanville felt that Han-Ram’s “got plenty of skill left. And [the Red Sox] need him, that right-handed bat to given them that veteran power for them to continue to be successful offensively.” Last night proved Glanville to be correct.
Ramirez has put the rest of Major League Baseball on notice to be prepared: Han-Ram is coming.