David Ortiz, or “Big Papi,” as he is affectionately known by Red Sox fans, isn’t ending his career quietly. Last night, he hit a mammoth home run off of the Chicago White Sox, and in doing so, he tied Gary Sheffield for 25th on the all-time home run list with 509.
Ortiz’s two-run blast came off of Chicago’s Carlos Rodon, and it put his Red Sox ahead, 3-1.
Ortiz now one HR away from tying Yaz for 2nd most HR by player wearing Red Sox uniform pic.twitter.com/qAQweqV7hE— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) May 5, 2016
Not only is David Ortiz now tied with Gary Sheffield, and not only is he just two home runs away from passing the legendary Carl Yastrzemski on Boston’s all-time home run list, there is something else that made Ortiz’s home run special: It was the first home run Rodon had surrendered to a left-handed batter in quite some time.
Ortiz also had an RBI single later in the game to help the Red Sox beat Chicago, 5-2.
In addition to Ortiz, the night was also important to Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, who pitched seven strong innings and gave up just two runs. As The Boston Globe reported, Buchholz was on the hot seat, having entered the game with an inflated 6.51 ERA. Manager John Farrell was on him to “attack the strike zone,” and that’s just what he did. Aside from a 402-foot, two run homer from White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, Buchholz shut down Chicago, who currently has the best record in Major League Baseball.
The win reduced Buchholz’s ERA to 5.71, and it was his first victory of the season. Together, Buchholz and Ortiz put the Red Sox in first place, a half game ahead of the Baltimore Orioles.
David Ortiz: Not Playing Like Someone Who’s About To Retire
Following his two-hit, three RBI performance, David Ortiz is batting.311 with six home runs and 22 RBI, with a.404 On-Base Percentage and.633 Slugging Percentage. In other words, “Big Papi” is not playing how he should be — a 40-year-old who is playing in his final season.
Last year, Ortiz batted.273 with 36 homers and 108 RBI. He has now been with the Red Sox since 2003, after six nondescript seasons with the Minnesota Twins. When he played for Minnesota, Ortiz hit 58 home runs from 1997-2002, mostly as a platoon player, with a high of 20 in 2002. After that, the Twins let him go.
But, everything changed when the Red Sox signed him to play in 2003. He batted.288 with 31 home runs, 101 RBI, a.369 OBP, a.592 slugging percentage, and a.961 OPS — all career highs for Ortiz at that point in his career. But, more importantly, Ortiz led the Red Sox to their first World Series Championship since 1918. They also won in 2006 and 2013, with Ortiz as one of their key leaders.
Since coming to Boston, David Ortiz has transformed from being a part-time platoon player to a Hall of Famer. He is a nine-time All Star, and he has won a Silver Slugger six times. Ortiz has blasted at least 30 homers in nine different seasons, and at least 40 three times.
His best season was 2006, the second time he led the Red Sox to a World Series Championship, when he hammered 54 home runs, drove in 137 runners, and batted.287 with a whopping 1.019 OPS. Ortiz finished third in the MVP balloting that year, behind Minnesota’s Justin Morneau and the Yankees’ Derek Jeter.
What do you think? Can David Ortiz finish his storied career by leading the Red Sox to one last World Series Championship?
[Photo by David Banks/Getty Images]