In yesterday’s loss to the New York Mets, Boston Red Sox first baseman David Ortiz hit his 494th home run, passing both Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff for 27th on the all-time MLB home run list. He’s closing in on 500, having only six home runs to go.
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Ian Browne of MLB.com reported the night’s work, writing the sound bites that Ortiz was offering. Reflecting on how Ortiz blasted the pitch from Noel Syndergaard, Ortiz said”‘He threw me some good changeups, […] They were kind of low, but I was always looking for the fastball. For a guy that throws that hard, if anybody tells you I was sitting changeup there, I call [nonsense].”
Some other aging players may need to pad their stats with changeups to hit, but not Ortiz. MLB.com projects him to hit six more home runs, just enough to meet the total. In June and July, he hit seven home runs, and he smashed another eight in August. With a slash line of .341/.421/.693 to finish off the month, Ortiz is primed to make it happen. Especially since the New York Yankees are in Fenway to play a three-game series. The Yankees are 1.5 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for top spot in the American League East division, and the Yanks hold a 5.5 game lead for the wild card spot; New York can’t afford to take an off-day on any hitter, let alone Ortiz.
According to ESPN.com, the Red Sox are ranked third overall for MLB batting, just behind the Blue Jays and Yankees. Boston is also seventh in batting average, eighth in slugging, and third in runs scored, which is pretty amazing since the year that the Red Sox have had. The Yankee starters will have to attack Ortiz, instead of intentionally walking him, for fear of another batter driving him home and costing New York more ground in the standings. That means Ortiz will be getting some fastballs coming his way.
Considering that Ortiz admits to looking for fastballs and statistically hitting them well, he might hit a few in the next three days.
When asked about how passing the legendary Yankee felt, Ortiz said, “I heard about Lou Gehrig when I was a kid. Now, being part of the game, your name right next to historical people like that, it’s great, it’s an honor.” When asked about McGriff, Ortiz said, “That’s my dog […] I’m pretty sure he’s going to holler at me at some point and say, ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ That was one of my favorite players, too.”
It should be interesting if Ortiz gets to 500. In his contract, he will make another $3 million if he does it. He has 10 more to reach Eddie Murry with 504 homers. Is that realistic, this season? Is 500? Ortiz will, for sure, be grinning for the rest of the season if he keeps hitting like he has for the last three months.
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