Manny in middle of more controversy
Slugger thought he homered, forced to settle for RBI single
CLEVELAND -- Manny Ramirez has been in rare form this week. Actually, perhaps the Boston slugger's sudden propensity for entertaining a pack of reporters shouldn't seem surprising, considering little of what Ramirez does is ever predictable.
On Thursday night, Ramirez once again found himself smack in the middle of some controversy -- this time during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series against the Indians. Instead of hiding from the spotlight, though, Ramirez sported an amused grin as he lounged on a couch amidst a crowd of cameras following Boston's 7-1 victory.
The issue stemmed from a baseball that Ramirez launched well into the Cleveland night in the third inning. Believing the blast to be a home run, Ramirez trotted leisurely out of the batter's box and headed toward first base. The baseball bounced off the top of the wall and back onto the field, though, and Ramirez wound up with a long single.
Ramirez clearly didn't agree, beginning to argue with the umpires about the decision. After the game, one reporter asked Ramirez what he said to one of the umpires, at which point Boston's David Ortiz stood up from the other end of the couch and started chuckling.
"OK, OK, that's it. The interview's over," said a grinning Ortiz, causing an outburst of laughter in the visitors' clubhouse at Jacobs Field.
Ramirez smiled and remained in his seat, offering a simple explanation for his latest antics.
"I thought it was out," said Ramirez, referring to the would-be home run. "But what can I say?"
On the field, Ramirez said a lot.
With two outs and Ortiz on first base, Ramirez sent the first offering he faced from Indians left-hander C.C. Sabathia deep toward right-center field. The baseball came crashing down on top of the wall, appearing to bounce off the yellow line that sits atop the fence, according to television replays.
Ortiz sprinted around the basepaths and scored on the play to put Boston ahead, 2-1, but Ramirez remained at first, confused that he was only being rewarded a long base hit. Ramirez turned to first-base umpire Dana DeMuth and asked for a timeout, and then began pointing toward the wall and walking into the outfield.
"Whatever happens, happens," Ramirez said. "There's no pressure, man. We play hard, we try to leave everything on the field and that's it."
Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell was standing in the on-deck circle at the time, but he said it was difficult to tell where the ball landed.
"I couldn't tell. I had no idea," he said. "I heard there's a little concrete thing beyond the yellow and it looked like it might've hit that. I even saw a replay inside, and I couldn't tell from the replay, either. I'm just glad it didn't affect the outcome of the game. It would've been a shame if it did."
Ramirez then begged for an appeal to right-field umpire Paul Emmel, who jogged in to hear Ramirez's argument, as Boston manager Terry Francona emerged from the visitors' dugout. The ground rules for Jacobs Field indicate that a "fair batted ball that travels over the yellow line on top of the outfield wall" is a home run.
Considering that Ramirez's shot appeared to ricochet off the yellow line, the umpires made the correct call. Still, the men in blue convened and talked the matter over, while Ramirez and Francona stood close by. After a few minutes, the umpires held up the ruling that Ramirez had only achieved an RBI single, resulting in an eruption of cheers from the raucous crowd at The Jake.
Francona remained on the field, arguing with the umpires, but the decision stood.
"The hard thing is there's so much emotion," Francona said. "[The umpires] hustled, they talked about it, and from my understanding, even on replays it's a little bit hard to distinguish. So, seeing it live and happening quick like that, I think there's a point as a manager where you don't care if it's right, you want the run."
Ramirez also stirred up some controversy during Game 4 on Tuesday night, when he belted the third consecutive homer for the Red Sox in the sixth inning. After connecting with the pitch from reliever Jensen Lewis, Ramirez threw both hands in the air and watched the ball sail over the wall for a solo homer -- his record 24th career shot in postseason play.
On Wednesday's off-day, Ramirez engaged in a rare interview with a pack of reporters, who were quick to ask Boston's left fielder about his antics. Ramirez smiled and shrugged off his actions, saying that he wasn't trying to show anyone up by watching his home run.
"Man, I'm just happy to do something special like that," Ramirez said. "I'm not trying to show up anybody out there. I'm just trying to go have fun. If somebody strikes me out and shows me up, that's part of the game. I love it."
Ramirez didn't have a similar reaction to his hit on Thursday, but he still began jogging as if he had collected another homer. That part of the most recent Manny moment forced a grin from Lowell, who shook his head and joked some about the play after the game.
"I just want him to run when he hits the ball 380 feet, so he can get to second," Lowell said with a laugh. "Then my bloop single to right field can score a run. But he does what he wants to do. As long as he keeps hitting, he can do whatever he wants.
"He can stand on his head and talk to you guys for all I care."
No one would be surprised.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.