Saturday, April 9, 2011
Posted: 10:24 a.m.
The Tampa Bay Rays never won a game with Manny Ramirez in the lineup.
They exceeded their run total from his entire tenure in their first game after he left the team.
After busting out on offense and breaking into the win column, the Rays try for another strong effort Saturday when they continue their four-game road series against the Chicago White Sox one day after Ramirez abruptly retired.
Ramirez, who served a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy in 2009, recently tested positive again for a performance-enhancing drug. Rather than serve a 100-game ban this time, the 38-year-old slugger opted to walk away from the game.
The Rays signed Ramirez in the offseason after an unremarkable 24-game stint with the White Sox at the end of 2010. A surefire Hall of Famer were it not for his drug violations and other character issues, Ramirez retires with 555 home runs - none with the Rays.
He managed one single and one RBI in 17 at-bats in a Tampa Bay uniform, with the Rays losing all five games in which he appeared.
"It's unfortunate," said Tampa Bay outfielder Johnny Damon, who helped Boston end an 86-year title drought by winning the 2004 World Series, in which Ramirez was the MVP.
"I don't know everything that's been brought up. All I know is he's a great teammate and a great player," Damon said, when asked specifically about the steroid allegations. "It's going to be sad not seeing Manny Ramirez ever around a baseball field."
The Rays' offense had been sad to watch, totaling eight runs and batting .145 during an 0-6 start. Hours after the shocking news about Ramirez, though, they rallied for five runs in the ninth inning to beat the White Sox 9-7.
All five runs off Chicago closer Matt Thornton were unearned due to errors by Alexei Ramirez and Juan Pierre. Tampa Bay (1-6) took advantage, with a three-run homer by Dan Johnson providing the decisive blow.
"No feeling like it. It makes everything better," Johnson said. "We were just talking about how the food tastes so much better. (Losing) leaves such a bad taste in your mouth. Everything seems better right now."
Damon added his first homer in a Rays uniform.
The White Sox (4-3), who got homers from Ramirez, Gordon Beckham and Mark Teahen, continue to engage in slugfests. They're averaging 7.4 runs per game while allowing more than six per contest.
Chicago will send a largely unproven quantity to the mound Saturday in Philip Humber (0-0, 9.00 ERA). Humber is making his first start for the White Sox, filling the fifth spot in the rotation when necessary while Jake Peavy rehabs a shoulder injury.
Humber has made two relief appearances this season, allowing two runs over two innings.
A 28-year-old journeyman who has previously pitched for the Mets, Twins and Royals, Humber has struggled in two career starts, yielding 10 runs and 15 hits over 9 2-3 innings. The right-hander's one appearance against the Rays came in relief, but it was the second-longest outing in his career.
Humber, then pitching for Minnesota, limited the Rays to two runs over 5 1-3 innings at Tampa Bay on Sept. 18, 2008, but didn't get a decision.
Tampa Bay will give the ball to Wade Davis (0-1, 5.68). The right-hander defeated the White Sox twice last season, limiting them to three runs over 12 1-3 innings.
Davis was less impressive in his season debut Sunday, allowing four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-1 home loss to Baltimore.
Davis may not have to face Adam Dunn. The Chicago slugger, who had hoped to return from an appendectomy performed Wednesday in time for this series, will likely need to rest at least through the weekend according to manager Ozzie Guillen.
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