07/14/2004 1:48 AM ET
Sox sluggers dial long distance
Ramirez, Ortiz each crank two-run homers in Houston
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
Manny Ramirez rounds the bases following his two-run homer in the first inning. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Manny takes Clemens deep: 56K | 350K
David Ortiz's two-run homer: 56K | 350K
HOUSTON -- Manny Ramirez declined an invitation to Monday's Home Run Derby. David Ortiz participated in the competition, but was a first-round knockout. As it turns out, the two Red Sox sluggers were saving their wallop for the All-Star Game.
Much like they did for the Red Sox during the first half, Ramirez and Ortiz used the longball to help their team win.
This time, the team was the American League All-Stars, who rode homers from the Boston duo to a 9-4 victory.
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was glad to have the fearsome duo helping his cause for once.
"Those guys have been doing it all year," said Jeter. "We've seen Manny and Ortiz enough from playing against them so much."
Ramirez, who leads the league with 26 homers, ripped a two-run homer off the Astros' Roger Clemens in the top of the first. His 338-foot shot made it 3-0.
It was a classic showdown of power pitcher vs. power hitter, and Ramirez came out on top.
The left fielder teed off on an 0-2 pitch from Clemens and blasted his first career All-Star homer.
"Everybody knows Manny," said Ortiz. "No one was surprised in the dugout when Manny hit the ball like that. Manny puts so much into it every time he steps up to the plate. Manny is such a great hitter. It was a good pitch. He's so good that he can stay with it and still drive it like that. He said, 'I guess that's my first big hit in an All-Star Game, as long as I've been playing in All-Star Games.'"
While Ramirez (1-for-2) spent the Derby serving as Ortiz's personal coach and motivator, he simply passed the power torch to his close friend during the All-Star Game.
Ortiz (1-for-1, two walks) had been having a grand time taking part in the festivities of his first All-Star berth the last couple of days. With a seemingly permanent smile on his face, the left-handed masher made the trip to Houston even more memorable in the top of the sixth inning.
It was then that he launched an 86 mph slider from Marlins right-hander Carl Pavano into the upper deck in right field. The blast was measured at 423 feet.
Was that all?
"David's ball, that was a bomb," said Red Sox right-hander Curt Schilling, who didn't pitch in the game because of his bruised right ankle. "That ball was crushed. It was special. I'm so happy for him."
Ortiz was happy to find the upper deck that was so elusive to him a night earlier.
"I wasn't expecting to hit it out of the park, but that's what people come to watch," Ortiz said.
Ramirez, on the other hand, was certainly expecting what Ortiz ended up dong.
"He said he called mine," Ortiz said. "He said he knew I was going to go deep."
Yankees manager Joe Torre also had a pretty good idea of what was coming.
"Why don't you go do to someone else what you always do to us," Torre told Ortiz on his way to the plate. "As much as I hate David Ortiz while he's trotting around the bases against us, I still respect what he does."
After Ortiz's homer, Miguel Tejada wiped him down in the dugout with a towel. Ortiz did the same thing to Tejada on Monday night, cheering the Baltimore star on to victory in the Century 21 Home Run Derby.
"Today he was cleaning my face. He was giving me the energy I gave him last night," said Ortiz.
As for Ortiz, his homer off Pavano was the continuation of a memorable breakout season. He is hitting .304 with 23 homers and 78 RBIs.
"It was so much fun," Ortiz said. "I barely can talk right now. The guys made me laugh so much, but it was unbelievable."
Ortiz's first at-bat came in the fourth inning, when he pinch-hit for Ramirez and drew a walk. He galloped home on Alex Rodriguez's triple.
In the ninth, Ortiz got a chance to face the game's premier closer, walking on a 3-2 pitch from the menacing Eric Gagne.
Upon packing up his belongings and getting ready for Anaheim, where the Sox play a four-game series this weekend, Ortiz hoped this was his first of many tastes of the All-Star festivities.
"That's what makes guys be consistent every year, because it's so much fun to be here every year," said Ortiz. "I'm going to be pushing hard year by year to see if I can come to more All Star Games."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.