Red Sox David Ortiz Does It Again To Jays, One Shy Of Mantle
When the Boston Red Sox needed him most, Big Papi David Ortiz did it again by blasting his 535th home run for the victory. One homer shy of Mickey Mantle.
In the rubber match that saw both Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz and Toronto Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez last less than four innings a piece, Ortiz’s three-run homer was the difference. Once again, the Blue Jays were reminded that Mr. Ortiz was their ‘daddy’, as the 0-1 changeup thrown by reliever Joaquin Benoit hung in the middle of the plate for Big Papi to drive deep over the right field fence.
Any question of whether Ortiz would bring out the same magic that he has seemed to have against the Blue Jays was quickly answered in, possibly, his final visit to the Rogers Centre. Ortiz has now hit 41 home runs and 108 RBIs in 122 games in Toronto. The Red Sox won the highly-offensive game 11-8, after being down 7-8 in the top of the sixth inning.
Ian Browne of MLB.com reported: “The only other time Ortiz homered against Benoit was his epic, game-tying grand slam in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against the Tigers, which served as an iconic moment. In an attempt to rob Ortiz, Torii Hunter ended up in the bullpen.”
This particular blast had as much to do with personal achievement as it did team ramifications. Not only did it mean that the Red Sox would stretch their lead over the Blue Jays by two games in the American League East division, it also put Ortiz 18th on the all-time MLB home run list, ahead of Jimmie Foxx. The man just in front of Ortiz by one? Mickey Mantle, the great New York Yankee hitter.
Despite the accomplishment, don’t talk to Ortiz about anything other than the division race. The postseason is all that he seems to care about: “I care about winning. That’s all that matters at the end of the day.”
In his final season before retiring, Ortiz isn’t sitting back and relaxing, waiting for gift after gift to be presented to him by opposing teams. The gift that he cares about is the one that he wants to present to Red Sox Nation, himself: a possible World Series championship, his fourth since 2004.
For those baseball fans who love historical facts, however, don’t fret. Ortiz is very likely to make more memories as the regular season winds to a close. He only needs two more home runs to surpass Mantle, and Ortiz will have the pitches to do it.
By being third in the batting order, Ortiz has had Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez hitting behind him. Betts earning a .314 batting average, .358 with runners in scoring position, in the cleanup spot almost forces opposing pitchers to pitch to Ortiz instead of avoiding him. Add Hanley’s much-improved .350 with seven home runs in the last 15 games, one could argue that pitchers have no choice but to try getting Ortiz out so that there’s nobody on base for the other two men to drive home. That strategy paves the way for Ortiz to take the home run road past Mantle for 17th on the all-time list.
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Ortiz is not just hungry for fat pitches over the plate or for some home run milestone, at the moment. He’s hungry for another championship, before he decides to hang up his bat for good. Judging by the way he came through for the Red Sox, as he seems to do every time the team needs a hero, Ortiz is going to have his cake and eat it too. It also couldn’t hurt if the Red Sox played Blue Jays in the postseason, since it may quicken Ortiz once again to play in Toronto before the World Series.