Red Sox star Manny Ramirez hit a walk-off home run in the 2007 ALDS.
Have a game plan. Hitting major league pitching certainly isn’t easy but former Boston Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez often made it seem that way by being prepared every time he stepped in the box. He had a plan.
The dynamic duo that anchored the Red Sox lineup for years took us back to Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS. Boston was locked in a tie with Los Angeles in the bottom of the ninth inning with Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez on the mound.
K-Rod was one of the game’s best closers at the time. He was an All-Star that season after finishing fourth on the Cy Young ballot the previous year. Rodriguez also always had Manny’s number. Ramirez was 1-for-8 with four strikeouts in his career against K-Rod entering this game and how had to face him with the game on the line.
His underwhelming history against this pitcher didn’t shake Ramirez’s confidence. Why was that? He had a plan.
Ortiz reveals in the interview what Ramirez had told him after his last failed at-bat against Rodriguez. Manny boldly claimed that would be the last time that K-Rod would get him out.
"“He’s working me with the same stuff over and over and over,” Ortiz recalls Ramirez telling him. “He’s starting me with the get me over and then he wants to finish me hard. I’m going to pick one or the other. That’s my game plan the next time I face him.”"
Ramirez had very little success against Rodriguez but every failure was a learning experience. The cerebral Ramirez filed each of those experiences in his memory bank where it was stored for future reference. Over time, Manny caught on to how this pitcher was attacking him. Knowing how Rodriguez would approach him allowed Ramirez to craft his own plan.
There was a runner on second with one out when K-Rod relieved Justin Speier in the ninth inning of Game 2. Rodriguez quickly put away Kevin Youkilis by sending him down swinging and then intentionally walked Ortiz to get to Ramirez.
By the time Manny stepped to the plate he had already determined what he was looking for. It came on a 1-0 count, a fastball that Rodriguez tried to sneak inside. Ramirez turned on the pitch and crushed a towering shot over the Green Monster in left for a walk-off home run.
Manny stood watching for a long moment, hands raised triumphantly over his head as he admired his work. He eventually strolled around the bases, only to be met by a mosh pit of teammates waiting to celebrate at home plate.
The victory put the Red Sox up 2-0 in the series and they would cap the sweep with a decisive win in Anaheim the next night.
A thrilling seven-game series with the Cleveland Indians had its fair share of highlights before Boston went on to sweep the Colorado Rockies to secure their second World Series title in three years.
Ramirez is the all-time leader in postseason home runs so he has plenty of heroic moments on the October stage. This was one of the more memorable moments though. Not only was it a walk-off to win the game but Ramirez overcame a nemesis who had routinely gotten the better of him in the past. Those failed experiences helped Ramirez come up with a game plan and it paid off when it mattered most.