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Ramirez brings all-around game10/26/2004 11:31 PM ET
By Jim Street / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- The kind of jump-start the Red Sox have come to expect from left fielder Manny Ramirez returned in an all-around sort of way Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.
He hit a home run in the top of the first inning. He threw a runner out at the plate in the bottom of the first inning.
And when it was all over, he helped lead the American League champions to within one win of the franchise's first World Series championship since 1918.
So, where in the world has Manny been the past few days?
When the impact you have on a game -- or a series -- is dictated by how many home runs you hit and how many runs you drive in, Ramirez tiptoed into Game 3 of the best-of-seven series against the National League champion Cardinals with some un-Manny numbers.
He had one home run and two RBIs in nine official at-bats, and that took something away from his .444 (4-for-9) batting average. His homer on Tuesday was just his second of the postseason.
"Manny wasn't struggling," Red Sox hitting coach Ron Jackson said. "He hasn't been hitting home runs, but he's been getting on base."
Ramirez went 2-for-4, drove in two runs and prevented at least one run from scoring in Boston's 4-1 victory over the Cardinals.
"I'm just trying to relax at the plate, trying to get a good pitch to hit, and I got it," he said.
"That was huge for us," center fielder Johnny Damon said. "That home run makes it look like he has that power-stroke back."
And all is well again with the powerful Ramirez, who hit 43 home runs during the regular season. The Game 3 homer was the 18th postseason homer of his career, second all-time to Bernie Williams (22).
"I always say that we need one of the big guys to jump-start us," Jackson said. "Either Manny or David [Ortiz]. Manny got the home run that got us jump-started tonight."
The remarkable aspect of the home run was that every one of Jeff Suppan's previous pitches were down around the knees. The final pitch was up around the letters and Ramirez pounced on it.
"Give Manny credit," Jackson said. "A lot of guys couldn't hit that ball."
The real gem of the inning, though, might have been the one-hop throw Ramirez delivered to catcher Jason Varitek to complete an inning-ending double play in the bottom of the first.
The Cardinals, knowing they needed to get off to a quick start to get their red-clad fans in the game and deflate some of the Sox's momentum, loaded the bases with one out off Pedro Martinez. The 1-0 Boston lead was in jeopardy.
Jim Edmonds lofted a fly ball into short left field.
Manny came in, kept his footing, caught the ball and gunned down Larry Walker at the plate.
"That was a big play," Varitek said. "He threw the ball right on the money and allowed me to make the play."
Orlando Cabrera, the Red Sox shortstop who watched the play unfold, said he was surprised to see Walker attempt to score.
"Manny is not a great outfielder, but he can throw," Cabrera said. "I didn't think it was deep enough for them to try to score. But fortunately for us, they did, and Manny was able to make that good throw and cut that guy down."
Said Ramirez: "I set my mind to go home, so that's what I did."
Nothing to it. Hit a home run. Drive in a couple of runs. Throw a runner out at the plate.
It was just another day on the job -- and then some -- for one of the top candidates for the AL Most Valuable Player Award.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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