David Ortiz is rolling.
The long-time Red Sox slugger was batting just .253 with five home runs and 14 RBI at the end of April, but he has started May on a torrid pace.
Through a dozen games, the designated hitter has recorded at least one hit in all but one contest and he has amassed multiple hits in six of his last seven outings, capped by a 7-for-10 performance against his former team in Minnesota over the last two days. Ortiz has also gone deep four times, scored five runs, and driven in six in the series, which wraps up this afternoon.
Now, after a slow start, the ageless Ortiz again looks like the 2013 version of himself that continues to defy all odds and silence all critics.
In May, Ortiz is hitting .408 with a ridiculous 1.360 OPS. That’s elevated his slash line on the season to .305/.396/.596 to go along with 11 homers and 25 RBI. The nine-time All-Star and six-time Top 10 MVP finisher has put up similar numbers each year since 2011 – when he was 35.
Following a two-homer effort in Tuesday’s 8-6 loss in Minneapolis, Ortiz was asked what he liked about facing his old team at its relatively new ballpark. The 38-year-old replied, “What do I like? Whoopin’ the Twins’ ass.”
Target Field opened in 2010, long after the face of the Red Sox last called Minnesota home in 2002. Since, Ortiz’s performances have been nothing short of ridiculous. In 13 games at the ballpark, Ortiz is batting .528 (28-for-53) with nine homers, 22 RBI, 14 runs scored, and a 1.697 OPS. In parks where he’s had at least 50 at-bats, those are far and away his best totals.
“He’s in one of those stretches right now where he’s obviously seeing the ball well, they’re throwing pitches on the plate for him, and he’s not missing them,” said manager John Farrell after a 9-4 drubbing of the Twins on Wednesday. “You think what he’s done not only in these two games but in the time he’s spent in games played in this ballpark. He’s in a very rare stretch right now with his overall production.”
With his recent run, Ortiz has passed Jim Rice to take over sole possession of third-place on the franchise’s all-time long-ball list with 384. Only Ted Williams (521) and Carl Yastrzemski (452) have more.
A similar performance today and another win by the second-place Red Sox (tied with the Yankees at a half-game behind the Orioles) and the club could jump back into the division lead for the first time since sitting just 2-1 on April 3.
In spite of all the fan and media complaints, maybe it’s a good thing Ortiz signed that contract extension after all. Imagine the numbers he could put up playing at Target Field every day?
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