If, as David Ortiz suggests, there’s a direct correlation between Big Papi’s production and the temperature, teams across Major League Baseball could be screwed this summer.
Ortiz launched two more home runs Wednesday in the Red Sox’s 9-4 win over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field, where the game-time temperature was 54 degrees. Ortiz is locked in offensively, and the nine-time All-Star is carrying the Red Sox’s offense amid another trademark power surge.
“He’s in one of those stretches right now where he’s obviously seeing the ball well,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the win. “They’re throwing pitches on the plate for him, and he’s not missing them. You think what he’s done not only in these two games (against the Twins), but in the time that he’s spent in games played here (at Target Field), he’s in a very rare stretch right now with the overall production.”
Ortiz’s two-homer performance Wednesday marked the first time a Red Sox player has homered twice two games in a row since he himself accomplished the feat July 4 and 5, 2003. Ortiz now has five home runs over his last seven games, during which he’s batting .517 (15-for-29) with three doubles, eight RBIs and nine runs scored.
“Not only does (his swing) have good length through the strike zone, but obviously the power is what it is,” Farrell said while assessing Ortiz’s hot streak. “You see him much more aggressive (when he’s hot). There’s no tentativeness. He’s got a feel for seemingly what pitch is coming, and you see a little bit more of an aggressive leg kick, which generates so much more bat speed. When he squares a ball up, there’s no ballpark in the country that’s going to hold him in, and he’s in one of those stretches right now.”
Ortiz, who is hitting .388 (19-for-49) in 12 games this month, has seen his average climb from .250 to .305 since May 1. The Red Sox are 7-5 in that stretch, and it’s no surprise the offense is beginning to follow Ortiz’s lead, much like the unit has done countless times since he arrived on scene before the 2003 season.
“We need that. The first month was kind of a tough month,” Ortiz said. “We were dealing with (some things). We faced real good pitching, we faced the weather that was horrible most of the time, and it seems like everybody’s starting to produce.”
Ortiz continues to beat up on the Twins, in particular, hitting .351 (75-for-214) with 19 home runs and 47 RBIs in 56 career games against his former team. Ortiz is hitting .528 (28-for-53) with a .583 on-base percentage, 1.113 slugging percentage and nine home runs in 13 career games at Target Field.
“They were trying to stay away from me much of the time, so I’m just trying to put good swings on the ball and trying not to (swing) out of the strike zone,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz’s current approach clearly is working. The 38-year-old passed Jim Rice and moved into sole possession of third place on the Red Sox’s all-time home run list Wednesday, and it’s not unrealistic to think he’ll soon make a run at Carl Yastrzemski’s mark of 452 long balls if he continues to swing the bat like this.