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Manny inches toward 500 homers

Manny inches toward 500 homers

NEW YORK -- Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez is getting closer to joining a club reserved for the best home run hitters of all time. By launching home runs in his first two at-bats against the Yankees on Thursday night, Ramirez now has 495 in his career.

He is five away from becoming the 24th player in history to hit 500.

Is Ramirez excited to be closing in on the big 500?

"Not really. I'm going for 600," Ramirez said.

What about 700?

"Hey, [the] sky's the limit. Why not?" said Ramirez.

If you are as hot as Ramirez has been of late, the confidence is understandable. Nobody knows this better than Mike Mussina, who gave up both homers to Ramirez on Thursday and has been torched by him in his last two starts.

"Just the last two times out there I haven't done very well, and he's gotten some good swings and done some damage," Mussina said. "He's done a lot of that over his career, and he looks like he's got a lot more to do before it's over."

In the top of the second inning, Ramirez belted a solo homer to the opposite field in right-center field.

Just one inning later, the right-handed hitting machine hit a towering two-run homer to left-center against Mussina.

"He just gave me a good pitch to drive. I just drove it," said Ramirez. "I wasn't worried about nothing. I was just relaxed and waiting for my pitch."

The Red Sox enjoyed watching the show.

"He's pretty good, huh? Hopefully he'll invite me to his Hall of Fame speech," said Red Sox ace Josh Beckett.

The multi-homer game was the 50th of Ramirez's career, putting him in sole possession of 10th place on that all-time list. Eight of those multi-homer games have come against the Yankees.

Ramirez has hit 29 home runs at Yankee Stadium, his highest total in any visiting park. The 55 long balls Ramirez has clubbed against the Yankees represent his best total against any opponent.

Manny town
With two long balls on Thursday night, Manny Ramirez is now third all-time in home runs against the Yankees.
70Jimmie Foxx
62Ted Williams
55Hank Greenberg
53Manny Ramirez
52Carl Yastrzemski

The left fielder has no explanation for his success in the Bronx.

"I wish I could tell you. I don't know," said Ramirez. "What can I say?"

His bat said enough.

"It feels good, but I've still got to keep going," said Ramirez.

The Red sox are counting on it.

"It was huge," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "He hit two balls, one of them almost went out of the stadium. He swung the bat great."

And now, Ramirez is getting ready to join the greats in a most select club.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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