MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins released David Ortiz after the 2002 season. He was a .266 hitter over six seasons and was entering free agency. The organization thought they could do better than spend their money on a one-dimensional designated hitter.
Ortiz has delighted in making the Twins regret their decision ever since, no more so than on Saturday night.
Ortiz drove in six with a pair of thunderclap home runs to right field as the Red Sox beat the Twins, 12-5, before a crowd of 36,967 at Target Field.
They say the best revenge is living well. Ortiz is 66 of 199 (.332) against the Twins since they let him go with 15 home runs and 43 RBIs over 53 games.
Minnesota starter Scott Diamond threw seven scoreless innings against the Sox at Fenway Park on May 7. But he did not get through the fifth inning this time. Diamond gave up six runs on eight hits.
Jacoby Ellsbury did something unusual and started the first inning with a hit. He had been 8 for 38 leading off games this season before his single to center field.
Dustin Pedroia drew a walk with one out. Ortiz then hit a hanging curveball into the first row of the seats above the scoreboard in right field.
It was the fourth home run in 10 games at Target Field for Ortiz, the second in as many nights.
Ortiz drove in another run in the third inning. Jonny Gomes drew a one-out walk before Pedroia singled to extend his hit streak to 10 games. Ortiz then lined a fastball into right field to give the Red Sox a 4-1 lead.
The Sox scored three more runs in the fifth inning. Doubles by Gomes and Pedroia accounted for the first one. Pedroia took third when Ortiz grounded out.
Anthony Swarzak replaced Diamond (3-4) but he couldn’t stop the bleeding. After Mike Napoli walked, Daniel Nava had a sacrifice fly. Will Middlebrooks then continued his productive stretch with a single.
Napoli scored when Ryan Lavarnway singled for his first hit of the season. Middlebrooks tried to go to third on the throw to the plate and was thrown out. But despite that mistake, the Sox had a 7-2 lead.
Pedroia walked to start the seventh inning and scored on Ortiz’s second home run. Napoli then walked and scored when Nava homered off Casey Fien.
Nava has 27 RBIs in 36 games.
Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster had an easy first inning. But the second and third innings were a struggle as he threw 61 pitches, allowed two hits and walked five. Remarkably he gave up only one run.
Joe Mauer, who was 1 for 12 against Dempster, doubled with two outs in the fourth inning. Justin Morneau then singled to right field to cut the Red Sox lead to 4-2.
Dempster took a five-run lead into the fifth inning and gave up a deep fly ball to right field by Ryan Doumit that was misplayed into a double by Nava. Two groundouts scored Doumit and Dempster was an out away from qualifying for a victory.
He never got it. Aaron Hicks walked and stole second and Pedro Florimon singled him in. With Dempster at 122 pitches, Sox manager John Farrell came to the mound. But he left Dempster in against Jamey Carroll, who was 6 of 20 in his career against him.
Dempster allowed an RBI single to right field and was finally taken out. Dempster threw 127 pitches, tied for the fourth-most in the majors this season. Dempster last threw that many in 2011 when he had 128 against the Reds while with the Cubs.
Clayton Mortensen came on to end the inning.
Mortensen got an out in the sixth inning before Doumit singled and Oswaldo Arcia walked. Lefthander Craig Breslow (1-0) came in and walked Trevor Plouffe to load the bases.
Hicks popped up to shallow right field. Pedroia made a basket catch with his back to the plate, spun and threw a one-hop strike to Lavarnway. He took the blow from Doumit and held on for the double play that ended the inning.