Pedroia brought a merciful end to a 4-hour, 16-minute marathon Monday night with a one-out RBI single in the 11th inning at Fenway Park. And as he ran toward the dugout to celebrate the Boston Red Sox's come-from-behind 6-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, Pedroia was intercepted by Ramirez, who lifted him clean off the ground, wrapped him in a bear hug and began waving him around.
"You could see, every time we get a good hit, he's very excited," Ramirez said of Pedroia, who incredibly notched only the second walk-off hit of his 12-year career. "It was exciting, not just for him but for everybody. You know Pedey and I, we've got a good relationship."
And don't tell Phillies reliever Joaquin Benoit that Ramirez has been dealing with soreness in both shoulders. Three innings before Pedroia's heroics, with the Red Sox trailing by one run, Ramirez stepped to the plate, jumped on a first-pitch slider and drove it over the Green Monster for his ninth homer of the season and only his fourth in 128 plate appearances.
Shoulder problem? What shoulder problem?
Before the game, Red Sox manager John Farrell said he "can't say [the shoulders are] not affecting him. To what extent, I don't know that." Farrell claims to be unsure of the intensity or frequency of Ramirez's shoulder pain, only that it's enough to limit the slugger to being a full-time designated hitter rather than playing first base when the Red Sox face a left-handed pitcher, as the club had intended before the season began.
"It's not just the throwing shoulder. The left one has had some work done previously," Farrell said. "What I don't know specifically from Hanley is if it ebbs and flows or if it's just a constant nagging situation. I do know this: When a heavy volume of throwing takes place, the soreness, he feels like it begins to affect his swing."
Ramirez, for what it's worth, says he feels better physically than he did even last season, although he has been receiving treatment on his shoulders before and after game.
It's all a big mystery. But it has thrown the Red Sox's roster out of joint. With Ramirez unable to play first base, Farrell has had to sit rookie left fielder Andrew Benintendi against left-handed pitchers to create playing time for righty-swinging veteran outfielder Chris Young. First baseman Mitch Moreland also has had to play every day, putting him on pace to obliterate his career-high total for at-bats in a season (471 for the Texas Rangers in 2015).
If Ramirez was producing the way he did last season, the Red Sox could better tolerate the lineup juggling. But after going 1-for-5 Monday night, he's batting .249 with a .350 on-base percentage and a .769 OPS that ties him for 45th among 88 American League hitters with enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title.
To hear Ramirez tell it, the problem isn't physical. Instead, he says he has noticed pitchers are attacking him differently than last season by feeding him more offspeed pitches and fewer fastballs, likely the result of not having David Ortiz batting in front of him.
"It's just been different," Ramirez said. "I've just got to make adjustments."
Optimists will note that Ramirez's numbers at the same point last season looked a lot like what he has done this year. Through 63 games, he was batting .270 with four homers, a .340 on-base percentage and a .718 OPS. From then on, he batted .298 with 26 homers, a .377 on-base percentage and a .972 OPS to complete one of the best offensive seasons of his career.
Could Ramirez be due for a similar revival?
"You know, I've got a couple guys calling me 'Summer.' When it gets hot, I get hot," Ramirez said. "That's a good thing. When you've got all the top players on the team, when somebody gets cold, the other guy gets hot."
The time has come for Ramirez to get hot, unless his shoulders hold him back.
Then again, after seeing him crush Benoit's pitch and dead lift Pedroia, it seems Ramirez can carry the Red Sox for a while, too.