The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Somebody arrest David Ortiz.
It’s been a full decade now since the Twins, in what was surely a disastrous paperwork mix-up and not one of the most mind-boggling personnel misjudgments of all time, released the Dominican slugger. And in the 10 years since then, the Twins have watched Ortiz turn into Big Papi, the man who brought two championships to Boston, who slugged more than 400 homers, who made eight All-Star teams and finished top five in five MVP votes.
He made his point. The Twins are full of regret. But Ortiz won’t stop punishing them.
Two more home runs Saturday just rubbed it in a little deeper, Ortiz’s blasts (plus a single) delivering six runs in Boston’s 12-5 victory at Target Field.
“One guy we say ‘don’t beat us’ is David Ortiz. They’ve got a lot of really good hitters over there, but we told them stay away from this guy, don’t give in to him,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after his team lost its fourth game in a row. “He keeps sending souvenirs, so we’ve got to make an adjustment. We’ve got to pitch him a little bit better than that.”
They have been trying for 10 years. But Ortiz now has a 15 homers worth of revenge against the Twins, and 43 RBI. He’s hitting .332 against his old team, his highest average against any American League club.
But he doesn’t sound like a man bent on vengeance.
“I used to be, but not anymore. I just go about my business,” Ortiz said. “You see me try to use the moon every time I go to hit everywhere.”
No place like Target Field, though. Ortiz is batting .500 (19-for-38) in the Twins’ new home, with five home runs. “It is a great ballpark,” said the man seemingly bent on demolishing it, home run by home run. “They did a great job on this ballpark.”
A better job than, say, Scott Diamond did on the 2-2 curveball that he threw Ortiz with two runners on in the first inning, a pitch “I just didn’t execute,” the lefthander said. “I hung the hell out of it.”
Ortiz’s shot gave the Red Sox an early lead, and his two-run hammer off Anthony Swarzak in the seventh put the game away after the Twins had closed to within 7-5. The Twins might have scored even more, but they got zero runs from the three times they loaded the bases, leaving 13 runners on base.
Ryan Doumit snuffed out one potential rally with a baserunning mistake that Gardenhire described as “probably not wise.” In the sixth inning with the Twins trailing by two, Doumit — who had already been caught in a rundown while trying to score in the second inning — tagged up on a pop fly to short right field.
Dustin Pedroia caught the ball with his back to the infield, whirled and made a perfect throw to catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who braced for impact. “He just went and tagged up and tried to make a play,” Gardenhire said. “He’s an aggressive guy; it just didn’t work out too well.”
Especially for Doumit, whose out on the collision ended another missed-opportunity inning. “He might have got the worse side of it,” Lavarnway said. “My mask might have hit him in the face, [and] I’m not a small person.”
Lavarnway held on, the Twins never put another runner on third base, and their bullpen surrendered six runs on top of Diamond’s poor outing. No wonder they are 18-21, three games below .500 for the first time since April 13.
“We scored some runs, but we just didn’t come up with enough big hits,” Gardenhire said. “We hit some balls pretty decent, but it says it all when you leave 13 guys out there. That pretty much tells the story.”
That, and David Ortiz’s thirst for revenge.