"He laid there. I was real worried," Francona said. "Once he got up, he was kind of smiling."
With Ramirez out of the mix, Francona went with Kevin Youkilis in the cleanup spot. Youkilis played third base, with David Ortiz getting the nod at first and Mike Lowell out of the lineup. Eric Hinske filled in for Ramirez in left field.
Timlin back at it: For the first time since May 2, Mike Timlin was available out of the Boston bullpen. How will the veteran setup man be used initially?
"You know, I don't know," Francona said. "Some of it will probably depend on how we get to the bullpen. Obviously, it would be nice to give him a little bit of leeway. He's been pitching pretty regularly. I don't think it's quite like last time where he was still in Spring Training. He's been pitching enough now where he's not feeling his way. He's gotten pretty consistent throwing in the last couple of weeks."
Rested closer: Jonathan Papelbon entered Saturday's game on five days of rest, having not pitched since the game-winner he surrendered to Alex Rodriguez at Fenway Park. In the first five games of this road trip, the only save opportunity was Thursday, but Curt Schilling went the distance in that one, coming one pitch away from a no-hitter.
Romero in limbo: A day after designating J.C. Romero for assignment, Francona indicated that general manager Theo Epstein had made attempts to deal the lefty.
"Theo told me, I know he had spoken to some teams and couldn't get to the finish line so he had to designate him for assignment," said Francona. "That's about the best way to put it. I don't know if designating him helps the trade or not. I'm sure nobody knows."
Lopez's option was to stay: The past couple of years, lefty specialist Javy Lopez has often become a casualty when the Red Sox have needed to make a roster move. After all, Lopez has options. But the way he's pitching, the Red Sox didn't want to send him back to Triple-A Pawtucket and instead parted ways with Romero.
"Knowing that I do have an option and that it wasn't their first decision, it's definitely nice to see that," said Lopez. "This game is crazy. I've been on that side, I've been designated. I know what that feels like."
Lopez is 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA in 19 appearances this season. He has held left-handed hitters to a .219 average while also faring well against righties (.267).
The key to his success?
"Just being able to be consistent," Lopez said. "It's easy to get up here, but consistency keeps you up here. I've tried to get to that level, and I think I've done a good job of that. When you're in a 'pen like this, where everybody is throwing so well and have their roles where I know I have to get certain guys out in key situations. If I do great, and if I don't, I know I have guys coming in behind me that can come in and get the job done as well."
On deck: This three-game series will close with a marquee pitching matchup, as Daisuke Matsuzaka (7-4, 4.63 ERA) takes on Johnson (3-2, 3.78). First pitch is slated for 4:40 p.m. ET.