Red Sox Notes: David Ortiz’s Start At First Base Turns Oddly Historic

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BOSTON — The Red Sox’s firework display spilled over into July 5.

One day after Clay Buchholz tossed a complete-game gem on Independence Day, the Red Sox kept the festivities alive Sunday by rallying for a hard-fought, 5-4 win over the Houston Astros at Fenway Park.

Hanley Ramirez slapped a go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh inning shortly after Boston squandered a two-run lead in the top of the frame. The Red Sox took two of three from the Astros over the holiday weekend, continuing Boston’s solid run against quality American League opponents.

Let’s run down some notes from Sunday.

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— David Ortiz started at first base in a non-interleague game for the first time since Aug. 5, 2006, against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. It was his first start at the position at Fenway Park since July 16, 2005, against the New York Yankees.

Interesting, right? Well, that was just the beginning.

Ortiz’s rare first base cameo turned oddly historic, as the following tweet shows.

The Astros amazingly grounded out just twice all game — both in the second inning. The first involved Ortiz fielding a grounder and flipping to pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez — thus, Ortiz received an assist — and the second involved Jake Marisnick being called out for batter interference on a bunt attempt.

— Ramirez, who served as the designated hitter with Ortiz playing first base, could become Boston’s full-time DH someday. Just don’t expect it to happen this season.

While Sunday’s lineup was easy on the eyes given Mike Napoli’s season-long struggles, Red Sox manager John Farrell dumped cold water all over the idea of seeing a similar arrangement on a consistent basis.

“I don’t see many at-bats at the DH slot going forward for (Ramirez),” Farrell said after the game.

The question was posed because Ramirez is hitting .333 (9-for-27) with five homers, a double, 10 RBIs and five runs scored in seven games as a DH this season.

— Ramirez’s seventh-inning home run was a one-handed shot. Has he hit such homers in the past?

“A couple. Not a lot,” Ramirez said. “But that’s why I work every day on my follow-through. That’s the key to my swing.”

— Rodriguez, who tossed five innings of one-run ball, became the first Red Sox pitcher since 1920 to allow one run or fewer in six of his first eight career starts.

The 22-year-old, who struck out a career-high eight batters, also became the first lefty since 1920 to record seven or more strikeouts and allow one run or fewer four times in his first eight career starts.

“I feel way better now here with everybody,” Rodriguez said, acknowledging his growing comfort at the major league level. “They try to teach me how to pitch, all the starting pitchers try to help me a lot, so that’s what I feel right now.”

— Ryan Hanigan helped Rodriguez navigate through trouble, demonstrating the importance of having a veteran catcher on the roster. Hanigan will try to help Rick Porcello work out his issues Wednesday.

But while Hanigan is known for his defensive presence, the 34-year-old had one heck of a day at the plate. He reached base four times and recorded his first three-hit game since April 19, 2014.

“Right prior to him breaking his hand, he was putting up tough at-bats,” Farrell said of Hanigan, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list earlier in the week. “He fouls off a number of quality pitcher’s pitches. And to serve three base hits in roughly about a 20-foot span in the same spot (in right field), key RBIs. Just doing a very good job in that (No. 9) spot in the order.”

— Pablo Sandoval has 24 multihit games this season after going 3 for 4. He’s hitting .337 (33-for-98) over his last 25 games.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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