Manny slugs number 500. Ramirez became the 24th player to reach the milestone, connecting in the seventh inning off Chad Bradford to help the Red Sox beat the Orioles 6-3 Saturday night. Boston's left fielder hit the first pitch into the bleacher seats in right-center. He stood and watched the flight of the ball, then took off around the bases in a slow trot, a broad smile on his face.
Ramirez was slow reaching the milestone. He hit No. 496 on April 19 and had only three in 34 games before Saturday. This one, however, was worth the wait. "It was great, especially since I've been trying so hard the past three weeks just to get it done," he said. "It finally came and I'm happy. I'm proud of myself, of all the things I've accomplished. Now I can go and have fun." As he got to first base, Ramirez exchanged a high-five with coach Luis Alicea. He slapped hands with third base coach DeMarlo Hale, then hugged on-deck hitter Mike Lowell as he crossed the plate.
Many of his teammates greeted him as he reached the dugout, where Ramirez received more hugs and bounced up and down in an embrace with David Ortiz and Julio Lugo. The solo shot gave Boston a 5-3 lead. It traveled an estimated 410 feet. "I'm happy, you know, about everything I accomplished in life," Ramirez said. "Not everybody has the chance to go and get to 500. I'm just proud to do it." There were thousands of Red Sox backers at Camden Yards, and cameras flashed in the stands during every pitch to Boston's left fielder.