Anyone who has followed the Boston Red Sox over the last 13 years knows better than to underestimate David Ortiz. With that said, we wouldn’t blame you if you failed to predict this.
The 40-year-old designated hitter is in the midst of one of the greatest final seasons in Major League Baseball history, seemingly reaching milestones on a nightly basis. Monday night was no exception, as Ortiz became the oldest player to hit 35 home runs in a season with a two-run blast at Camden Yards that helped lift the Red Sox to a 5-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Big Papi now leads the team with 35 homers and 118 RBIs, incredible numbers for a player his age. Given that Ortiz hasn’t topped 110 RBIs in a season since 2007, it’s hard to imagine anyone forecasting this kind of season for Ortiz back in March.
But that didn’t stop John Farrell from having a little fun with a reporter, who asked the Red Sox manager what the team expected from Ortiz at the beginning of spring training.
“37 home runs and 140 RBIs,” Farrell responded, as aired on NESN’s “Extra Innings LIVE.” “As a 40-year-old.”
Farrell’s tongue obviously is firmly in his cheek here. But according to Farrell, his designated hitter offered some foreshadowing of a big year to come before the season even started.
“Well, he told us he was going to do it, and he did it,” Farrell said. “He’s doing it.”
Ortiz’s confidence is part of what makes him such a prolific hitter, so we shouldn’t be surprised that he set lofty personal goals for 2016. And with Big Papi still clubbing homers in the twilight of his career, it appears he’s reached that bar and then some.
Let’s hit a few other notes from Red Sox-Orioles:
— Another win over an American League East opponent helped give Boston even more padding atop the division. The Red Sox now own a four-game lead over the Orioles, while the Toronto Blue Jays were 4 1/2 games back pending the results of their West Coast game against the Seattle Mariners.
Boston’s magic number to clinch a playoff berth now is nine with 12 games remaining in the regular season.
— Hanley Ramirez had a rare off night at the plate (by his recent standards), but he still managed to find the highlight reel, making a diving play to stop a J.J. Hardy ground ball in the second inning.
— Mookie Betts’ love affair with Camden Yards continued when he hit his eighth home run in just seven games at the ballpark. One more homer in Baltimore over the final three games of the series would put the Red Sox right fielder in a class by himself.
— Drew Pomeranz has struggled recently and already is well over his career high in innings pitched with 164 1/3 innings entering Monday. But Farrell said before the game the Red Sox have no plans to remove Pomeranz from the rotation, and the left-hander is scheduled to make his next start Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays.
“Command. It’s been command,” Farrell said when asked about Pomeranz’s main issue, via WEEI.com. “Is that a direct correlation to the innings workload to date? That’s quite possible. I thought last night his velocity was consistent or similar to previous starts. The command from pitch to pitch was not there. And it cost him. That’s something we monitor close. He’s going to start Friday in Tampa. We continue on.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images