You didn’t think David Ortiz was lying, did you?
Ortiz vowed Sunday — after going 1-for-13 during the Boston Red Sox’s three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park — to get “hotter than Jamaica in the middle of August.” The slugger wasted no time in starting to make good on his word Monday by leading the Red Sox to a 14-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Ortiz crushed two home runs and collected four RBIs in the Red Sox’s best offensive performance of 2014. He had just two homers in his previous 18 games combined and had been hitting .241 in July, yet Ortiz’s confidence never wavered and Monday’s big effort went a long way toward showing that heating up pretty much was inevitable.
“He’s a Hall of Famer in my eyes,” said Mike Napoli, who went back-to-back with Ortiz as part of a six-run fifth inning. “Yeah, he had a rough series (against the Royals). He showed today he lets things go, and he can leave the yard like he did tonight anytime. It doesn’t matter how he’s going. I’ve got a good view of it and we’re never worried about him.”
Ortiz entered the game with a team-high 20 home runs and 64 RBIs. He seemed a bit overanxious in his at-bats over the weekend, though, and one could make the case he’s had a down year by his standards. Ortiz was hitting just .249 with a .348 on-base percentage before Monday’s rout. An up-and-down first half even resulted in the 38-year-old being left out of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game for only the second time since he joined the Red Sox before the 2003 season.
Monday marked a perfect starting point for Ortiz to turn things around. He has more home runs at Rogers Centre — now 35 in 105 games — than any ballpark not named Fenway Park. It’s why he even told NESN’s Gary Striewski before Monday’s game that he was happy to be back in Toronto, insisting, “You’ll see,” when asked why exactly.
“Our offense is coming along lately,” Ortiz told Striewski after the game, deflecting praise toward his teammates. “We finished the first half hitting well, and now we have, in the beginning of the second half, everybody coming in and contributing something. It gets no better. This is the right time for it.”
The Red Sox produced season highs in runs (14), hits (18) and home runs (four) Monday, though it was Ortiz — who homered in the fourth and fifth innings — who made the loudest statement.
Ortiz might get “hotter than Jamaica in the middle of August.” But he’s not waiting until August.
“Put it down like this,” Ortiz told reporters after the game. “I’m on my way to Jamaica.”