Someone needs to tell David Ortiz that the Home Run Derby at Target Field isn’t until July 14 — unless his pulverizing of Twins pitching is an audition for the event.
Turning every plate appearance Wednesday night into a stop-what-you’re-doing moment, Ortiz blasted his way up the home run charts while leading the Red Sox to a 9-4 victory over the Twins at Target Field.
Ortiz had three hits, two of them homers, in his first three at-bats. He’s a sizzling 7-for-10 in this series with four home runs and six RBI. He now has 442 home runs now, tying him with Dave Kingman for 39th on the career list. He hit 58 of those home runs as a member of the Twins, the team he broke in and played with from 1997-2002.
That’s when he was David Ortiz. Now he’s Big Papi, with 11 homers and 25 RBI in 36 games this season.
Can anybody stop this man?
“If we hit our locations and we move the ball in and out, you can get David out,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We’ve gotten him out plenty of times. But if you’re making pitches the way they made them tonight, he looks like he has the ball on a tee.”
To take the pop out of Big Papi, a pitcher has to be willing to go inside. That’s not happening, and Ortiz continues to put up monster numbers at Target Field.
In 13 career games here, Ortiz is batting .549 with nine home runs and 22 RBI. No one who has played at least 10 games in Target Field has an average like that. Target Field is helping him get hot.
“Whenever it comes, you take it, because it’s going to go away,” Ortiz said. “I guarantee that.”
Or is it Twins pitching getting him hot?
He followed Shane Victorino’s single with a double in the first inning. Victorino scored on a groundout and Ortiz scored on Grady Sizemore’s double as Boston took a 2-0 lead.
Ortiz returned in the third to crush a 1-0 pitch from Twins starter Kevin Correia into the second deck in right for a home run estimated at 404 feet. Sizemore added an RBI single as Boston took a 4-0 lead.
Joe Mauer’s sacrifice fly in the third cut the lead to 4-1. Boston got a Will Middlebrooks RBI single in the fourth to push the margin back to four runs.
Correia was lifted after the fourth inning, replaced by lefthander Caleb Thielbar. His first batter in the fifth: Ortiz.
On a 3-1 pitch, Ortiz buried another ball into the seats in right-center. Fans hooted and hollered as Boston took a 6-1 lead. Ortiz has 43 career multi-homer games, two as a Twin.
Ortiz made mincemeat of baseballs for a second consecutive night. He has a strange way of showing thanks to the Twins for the six seasons he spent here.
“I do thank those guys,” Ortiz said. “I learned a lot of good things. ‘Don’t take anything for granted. Work hard.’ One thing about this organization, the Twins will teach you how to play the game the right way.”
They didn’t pitch Ortiz the right way until the sixth, when Anthony Swarzak made him move his feet with an inside fastball, then struck him out swinging with a fastball away. The game was in hand by then, although the Twins scored three runs over the final two innings, including Trevor Plouffe’s two-run homer in the ninth. Ortiz flew out to right in the eighth, his final at-bat.