Yankees - 000 020 000 - 2 10 0Do you ever wonder when Manny Ramirez last felt pressure during a baseball game?
Red Sox - 311 202 00x - 9 15 0
After his comments of a week ago and his knee problems evolved into a weekend media frenzy, playing before a national television audience for the second straight day, and with his team facing the possibility of being swept by the Yankees and falling into third place in the AL East, you might think Manny would be concerned about having a good game.
Maybe he was nervous. But once the rain cleared and the game began around 9 PM, it looked like Manny didn't have a care in the world. He made a superb catch deep in the left field corner, over by the side door, to end the top of the first inning, gliding over cool as a cucumber. In the home half, he doubled to right-center on the second pitch he saw, driving in the Red Sox's first run of the night. That RBI also gave him the distinction of having the most career RBIs of any Dominician Republic-born player.
Manny ripped another double in the third (and later scored), hit a bomb that was hauled in by Melky Cabrera at the very deepest point in the park, singled in a run in the sixth, and skied to right in the eighth.
He was ably assisted by -- going down the lineup card -- Dustin Pedroia (single, double, run, RBI), Kevin Youkilis (single, 2 runs), David Ortiz (single, home run, 2 runs, 3 RBI), Mike Lowell (single, 2 RBI), J.D. Drew (2 walks), Jason Varitek (double, RBI), Alex Cora (2 singles, run) and Jacoby Ellsbury (2 singles, double, run).
Most of the Sox had their way with Ponson (4-10-7-1-1, 77), as 12 of the 22 batters to face him reached base.
Lester (7-9-2-1-8, 113) was aces once again, stranding one runner in each of the first four innings, falling into trouble in the fifth by allowing four straight singles and a walk before recording an out, then retiring his last nine batters.
It was a perfect, feel-good night -- a welcome tonic before the Angels series that begins Monday night.
Sidney Ponson (4.02, 103 ERA+) / Jon Lester (3.20, 137 ERA+)
Ponson's four starts with the Yankees:
22.2 IP, 28 H, 11 BB, 11 K
4.37 ERA, 1.72 WHIP, .318/.412/.477
Boston has scored more than four runs only once in the last nine games (4-5). In that stretch -- dating back to July 13, the game before the break -- they are batting .248 and slugging .356.
The current Boston roster has hit .379/.452/.546 against Ponson in 199 PAs, with David Ortiz (.444/.563/.722) and Manny Ramirez (.404/.481/.511) leading the way.
A loss tonight will drop them to third place.
Also: Rays/Royals, 2 PM -- Update: Royals 6-1!