BOSTON — When David Ortiz retires, he might have a promising second career ahead of him writing fairy tales.
The Red Sox designated hitter is nearing the end of a magical final season that has gone better than anyone ever expected — at 40 years old, he’s putting up one of the best statistical campaigns of his career.
That meant expectations already were high for Big Papi entering Friday night’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, which kicked off his final regular season series at Fenway Park.
Yet somehow, Ortiz outdid himself again.
The 40-year-old designated hitter was the primary source of offense in Boston’s 5-3, come-from-behind win. He plated the Red Sox’s first run with an RBI single in his first at-bat, then put his team ahead for good in the seventh inning with a clutch two-run homer that broke a 3-3 tie.
Ortiz’s go-ahead homer marked the 39th time in his career he’s hit a go-ahead homer in the seventh inning or later.
“You expect it,” Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said of his teammate’s continued heroics. “It’s kind of sad to say in this game. It’s so tough to do what he’s doing, and he makes it look easy. You just appreciate it so much from the outside, just watching him. We’re just enjoying it. It’s pretty awesome to see.”
Big Papi’s homer didn’t come easy, either. Ortiz hit a laser on a two-seam fastball from Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil that even left the Red Sox’s resident Cy Young candidate in awe.
“That was an awesome moment,” Red Sox starter Rick Porcello said. “You’re not going to see a left-handed hitter do what he just did — ever. (Cecil) threw (Ortiz) three breaking balls, then he threw him a nasty two-seamer in on the plate. He doesn’t cease to amaze.”
That Ortiz still is delivering at such an impressive rate — he has 38 home runs this year, his fourth-most ever in a single season — is pretty remarkable. But Big Papi’s success starts with his confidence, and no one knows this more than Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis.
“He came into the dugout (after his home run),” Davis said of Ortiz. “I forget who he said he was talking to, it might have been the catcher — and (the catcher) said, ‘Why are you so good?’ And (Ortiz) looks at him and goes, ‘I used to be better when I was younger.’
“That’s just the type of player he is. He’ll probably hit when he’s 80 years old, sadly to say. He might be able to make a comeback when he’s 80.”
Ortiz’s big night prompted one reporter to ask the slugger if he’ll try to hit two more homers in his last two games, which would give him 40 home runs at age 40.
Big Papi won’t write that script before it happens, but he’s not ruling out one more fairy tale, either.
“If it happens, it happens,” Ortiz said. “It’s all gravy.”
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images