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Call struck him the wrong way

Ortiz rips umpire after strikeout

David Ortiz was stewing in the dugout — and later in the clubhouse — after being called out on strikes in the ninth. David Ortiz was stewing in the dugout — and later in the clubhouse — after being called out on strikes in the ninth. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / May 13, 2010

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The Red Sox leave on a road trip today, and before he left the clubhouse yesterday, David Ortiz had the mundane duty of packing up his bats.

He fired the pieces of lumber into a black bag one at a time, muttering curses. After the last bat was in place, he zipped the bag and flung it 10 feet across the room, where it knocked over a garbage can with a loud bang.

“Umpires!’’ he shouted to nobody in particular, salting his anger with a few well-placed expletives. “Can you believe it?’’

Few at Fenway Park could after the Red Sox were beaten, 3-2, by the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday. Umpire Dale Scott called Ortiz out on strikes in the bottom of the ninth inning on a pitch that replays showed was well off the outside corner.

The call helped extinguish a rally that saw the Sox score two runs in the inning but leave the tying run on base.

Ortiz fell behind, 0-and-2, against Toronto closer Kevin Gregg but worked the count full before taking a 94-mile-per-hour fastball. Scott called a strike and Ortiz reacted in disbelief, motioning with his hands where the ball was and yelling repeatedly at the umpire. Scott only pointed to the dugout and did not eject the stupefied slugger.

Manager Terry Francona came out of the dugout to get between Scott and Ortiz.

Ortiz did not bother to look at a replay once the game was over.

“I don’t have to,’’ he said. “Thank God I wasn’t hitting righthanded because that would have hit me in the ribs.’’

Adrian Beltre, the next hitter, turned and argued with Scott on another sketchy strike call. When Francona came out of the dugout again, he was swiftly ejected. Ortiz stood on the top step of the dugout and shouted at the umpire.

Beltre cracked an RBI single to center, but Darnell McDonald popped up to end the game, leaving the Red Sox a frustrated bunch in the clubhouse.

“I’m too mad right now. Just write down whatever you guys want. All right?’’ Ortiz said. “Let’s leave it like that. You all know what’s up.’’

Until the ninth inning, it had been a productive day for Ortiz. He had the only two hits the Sox managed against Toronto righthander Shaun Marcum, a pair of sharp singles.

After hitting .143 in April, Ortiz is 9 of 29 (.310) in May with seven RBIs in eight games. His batting average is at .200 for the first time all season.

“That’s a miracle,’’ he said with disdain.

It’s more dedication, according to hitting coach Dave Magadan.

“He’s done a lot of work,’’ said Magadan. “He’s taken a lot of extra batting practice. What he’s working on is starting to show itself in the games. He’s not afraid to get here early and do the things that he needs to do to get back on track.

“He’s showing signs of it and showing a little more consistency. He put a couple of good swings on balls today. He needs to be a little more consistent putting the ball in play hard.’’

The reaction to the called third strike was an example of how competitive Ortiz is.

“He doesn’t need to do that to show me,’’ Magadan said. “I know what he does and the work he puts in every day. He’s still got a tremendous amount of passion for the game and to do well and help us win games.

“He’s still got a lot of passion to do well and he’s still got a ton of baseball left in him.’’

But Ortiz did not want to talk about making strides and having good at-bats. Not on this day and not after that call.

“Have a nice rest of the day, guys,’’ he said as he walked out of the clubhouse, “because I won’t.’’

Amalie Benjamin of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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