Once again, if there were any doubters as to who leads the Boston Red Sox, designated hitter David Ortiz showed why he is the ‘Big Papi’ of the franchise. The Detroit Tigers certainly know it, now. In front of 35 582 people in attendance in Fenway Park last night, the 39-year-old may smile softly but he put on an aerial assault with the big stick that he carries.
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For the Tigers, righty Shane Greene took the mound. The Red Sox countered with struggling new lefty star Eduardo Rodriguez. In his last outing Rodriguez allowed seven runs on six hits and three walks in just 1.2 innings. Greene hadn’t performed much better in his last two starts either, lasting 4.2 innings each time and allowed a combined 12 runs. Offense was definitely expected on the menu for both batting lineups.
The feast, however, was mainly for the Red Sox and began in the bottom of the fourth inning. Red Sox rookie catcher Blake Swihart continued to show why he’s a name that the organization doesn’t want to trade, hitting a double harshly to right field to score Hanley Ramirez.
The Tigers answered with a lead-off home run over the center field fence by third baseman Nick Castellanos, his 10th of the season, after Rodriguez offered a 94-mph fastball as his second pitch in the top of the fifth inning.
Detroit must have been full, because the meal was then quickly over for them. They may have had upset stomachs for the rest of the game, as it was all Boston on offense after that score.
The strategy at the plate was to get to Greene early in the count in the bottom of the fifth. Red Sox second baseman Brock Holt took two pitches to hit a single to center off of Greene’s 89-mph fastball. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts took Greene’s first pitch, an 85-mph slider, in the same direction for another single. The table was set for Ortiz who cleared it with a mighty crack of his bat off of Greene’s second offering over the fence in right-center field.
Greene’s troubles didn’t end there. The next batter was Ramirez who doubled to center, which brought out Detroit’s coach for a visit on the mound. After a sacrifice bunt that put Ramirez in scoring position, the Tigers intentionally walked Pablo Sandoval to get to Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli, who was hitting just .205 before the evening began. However, Napoli made them pay by drilling a ground-ruled double down the right field line on a full count to score Ramirez. The run spelled the end of Greene’s night as he was relieved by Kyle Ryan.
The next course to the hitting buffet came in the bottom of the sixth inning. After leading off with two straight hits, the Red Sox set the table once again for another hit from Ortiz, this time a single to center field that scored Jemile Weeks. Two batters later, Sandoval singled to right field to cash in Ortiz. Not to be outdone, after another coach’s visit to the mound, Napoli hit a single to right field to score Ramirez.
Ryan was relieved by Neftali Feliz to start the bottom of the seventh inning, and the new pitcher was greeted by a left-field single by Red Sox center fielder Mookie Betts. Bogaerts followed that up with a single of his own. Ortiz had already scored off of the first two Tigers pitchers and decided to go back for thirds. He destroyed Feliz’s 95-mph fastball beside where ESPN‘s color analysts Curt Schilling and John Kruk were sitting. Kruk stuck out his glove, but was not limber enough to get up and make the catch, apparently. A Red Sox fan got the ball instead, smiling from ear to ear. The same smile was on Ortiz’s face and the faces of the Red Sox, as they won the game 11-1.
- Weeks replaced Holt at second base in the top of the sixth inning, due to injury. Holt is day-to-day with a sore left knee.
- It was a big night for having base runners. The Red Sox went 7-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base in total. The Tigers went 0-for-7.
- Bogaerts went 4-for-5 at the plate, crossing the plate twice and brought his batting average to .317. Does anyone even remember his troubles with the bat last season?
- Napoli went 2-for-4, with two RBIs, a walk, and a strikeout to bring his batting average to .209.
- Ramirez went 2-for-4, crossing the plate three times. He didn’t have any RBIs because Ortiz did the job ahead of him each time.
- After a great start for his new team in the early summer, Alejandro De Aza has been off at the plate a bit in this series. De Aza went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts to bring his batting average to .256. He’s just 2-for-10 for the last three games against the Tigers.
The kid regained his form against the Tigers. Hopefully that means that he has no more ‘tell’ for which some of the media spread rumors. Rodriguez pitched seven innings, allowing one run on three hits, a walk, and six strikeouts. He threw 95 pitches, 66 for strikes, and earned seven groundouts to six flyouts.
His grade would have been higher if he hadn’t served up the home run so easily. The ball was gift-wrapped and Castellanos accepted it. Other than that mistake, it was an efficient, effective, and well-balanced start for the young arm. The thing to remember, still, is that he is a young arm who is being asked to fill a role that a veteran starter should have been performing consistently. There will be bumps on the road, but starts like this one will carry weight for Rodriguez to stay a part of the Red Sox rotation for years to come.
No hits. No runs. A walk by Ogando traded for a strikeout by Ross. That was all that happened for the bullpen for the last two innings of the game. Ross threw 14 pitches and Ogando threw 19 pitches. The major difference was Ogando hittingVictor Martinez
after walkingAnthony Gose
. It could have spelled real disaster, had the lead not been 10 runs. However, Ogando got out of trouble with two force outs from his defense. Scary, but the bullpen did the job.
The father-figure of the Red Sox hit like a true leader does: by example. Ortiz went 4-for-5 at the dish, with two home runs and seven RBIs. No strikeouts. The display helped Ortiz bring his batting average to .243, while
on the all-time RBI list.
It felt like Ortiz drew a line in the sand, saying ‘no more’ to the anguish he has had with his bat and the troubles surrounding the rest of the team. It wasn’t against his old nemesis David Price, but Ortiz must have felt good about knocking him and the rest of the Tigers down two games below .500.
Imagine if Price was traded to Boston after that? But that’s, maybe, for another dinner.
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