1st Pitch: Manny's return to Fenway

Quick Hits: Manny Ramirez will return to Fenway for the first time since the Red Sox traded him in 2008. A dominant presence at home during his Red Sox tenure, let’s dive into his Fenway numbers.

  • Ramirez will be returning to Fenway, the place where he hit 136 home runs while a member of the Red Sox. The only member of the Red Sox with more Fenway home runs to return as an opponent was Dwight Evans. He hit 199 homers at Fenway in his 19 seasons with the Red Sox. He went homerless in 24 at-bats at Fenway with the Orioles in 1991.

  • The last player to have played more games at Fenway with the Red Sox, and then return as an opponent: Wade Boggs. In his first game in Fenway’s visiting dugout, Boggs went 4-for-4 off John Dopson, but the Red Sox beat the Yankees 7-2.

  • Manny has a 1.005 career OPS at Fenway. An impressive number, but not the best among active players (min. 120 PA). That would be Adam Kennedy of all people at 1.016.

  • Manny hit one home run for every 14.79 at-bats at Fenway. The only active player that can top that is Jim Thome, who has one HR per 11.33 at-bats.

  • Ramirez had an RBI for every 4.43 Fenway at-bats. David Ortiz (RBI per 4.18) is the only active player ahead of him.

  • Worth noting: Red Sox left-fielders are hitting .233 this season, second-worst in the AL and fourth-worst in the majors.

  • In Manny’s last 10 games at Fenway (all with the Red Sox in 2008), he hit .368 with 3 HR and 12 RBI, an OPS of 1.153.

Today’s Trivia: With Manny returning to Fenway, who was the last player to hit a home run in his return to Fenway after playing at least 1,000 games for the Red Sox?

Today’s Leaderboard: Stephen Strasburg enters today’s start needing eight strikeouts to set the modern (since 1900) record for strikeouts in a pitcher’s first three games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the record currently belongs to J.R. Richard, who fanned 29 in his first three appearances. He broke the record of Karl Spooner (28), who wound up making only 16 starts in his career.

Most Strikeouts in 1st 3 Career Games (Source: Elias Sports Bureau)

Key Matchups: Easing him back from the DL, Joe Maddon elected to rest Jason Bartlett on Thursday, but he is expected back on Friday against the Marlins. One problem: Bartlett is 0-for-24 in his career against Nate Robertson. In all, he is hitless in 30 plate appearances against him. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is the most career at-bats without a hit for any active batter vs. any active pitcher. The next worst is Mark Ellis is 0-for-19 against Kelvim Escobar. The pitcher Bartlett has seen the next most without a hit is Justin Verlander (17 PA).

Jonny Gomes has made a career out of mashing left-handed pitchers. Scratch that. He’s made a career out of mashing lefties not named Cliff Lee. Just 2-for-21 (.095) lifetime against Lee, the only lefty he has struggled more against is Jarrod Washburn (0-for-13). Overall, Gomes has a .905 career OPS against lefties.

Trivia Answer: Not only did Carlton Fisk hit a home run in his first game back at Fenway, it was his first career game not wearing a Red Sox uniform. On Opening Day 1981, Fisk took Bob Stanley deep in the 8th inning at Fenway to give the White Sox a 3-2 lead. They went on to win 5-3.