BOSTON — The Red Sox might want to make plans for another statue outside Gate B at Fenway Park.
Ortiz joined Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski on Saturday in becoming the third player ever to hit 400 home runs as a member of the Red Sox. Ortiz hit two homers — No. 400 and No. 401 — while guiding the Red Sox to a 10-7 win over the Houston Astros on what was a special night for Boston’s beloved slugger.
“It’s an honor to be out there mentioned with those legends; legendary people that did an amazing job obviously playing for the Red Sox,” Ortiz said of his latest milestone. “Legendary, legendary. Whenever you come to this organization to play, you’re not expecting your name to be mentioned next to those guys, but it happens. You do what you’ve got to do and that’s the only way you get there.”
Ortiz’s first home run in the third inning — a mammoth blast into the center field bleachers — cut Houston’s lead to 5-3. His second homer in the fifth inning — a line drive down near Pesky’s Pole — kicked off a four-run explosion in which Boston grabbed a 7-6 advantage. Ortiz, who now has 459 home runs overall, has 28 bombs this season, showing again that the 38-year-old hasn’t lost a step in his 18th big league campaign.
“Every time David comes to the plate, you think there’s an opportunity or chance we might see a ball go out of the ballpark,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Saturday’s win. “And on two occasions tonight that was the case.”
Ortiz’s two-homer effort marked the 45th multi-homer game of his career. Since joining the Red Sox before the 2003 season, he ranks second in the majors with 43 multi-homer games — a franchise record that could increase on any given night.
“Pride,” Ortiz responded when asked what motivates him after all these years. “You need to have pride in what you do. You got to make sure that you go 100 percent out there and you do — you play your best. The fans come in to watch you play, and you got to give them what they expect.”
Ortiz certainly treated the fans Saturday. He stepped into the box with the bases loaded in the eighth inning — after already jacking two home runs — and promptly drilled a two-run double into the left-center field gap to extend Boston’s lead. Ortiz, who finished with six RBIs, was lifted for a pinch-runner following the clutch knock, at which point the Fenway Faithful showered him with chants of, “Papi! Papi! Papi!”
“It was great,” Ortiz said of the ovation. “That’s what you want to see — the fans enjoying what you’re doing out there.”
Ortiz acknowledged the boisterous crowd with a curtain call. It certainly wasn’t Ortiz’s first such gesture, and it probably won’t be his last. But joining the likes of The Splendid Splinter and Yaz is an incredible accomplishment that further cements Papi’s Red Sox legacy.
“When you consider how many fewer games he’s done it in, it’s really remarkable,” Farrell said. “He’s in rare company with the two other guys that he’s now linked to, and to see it in roughly 60 percent of the games with one and almost half the games of the other, it’s amazing what he’s been able to do here.”
When the greatest players in Red Sox history are discussed, the conversation typically begins and ends with Williams and Yastrzemski. No one compares to Ortiz as far as the current generation is concerned, however, and each benchmark highlights that notion.