The Texas Rangers challenged David Ortiz to beat them and he did, driving a three-run homer to right field that gave the Red Sox a 6-3 victory.
“That’s why he is who he is,” said Mike Napoli, who was on deck and had a feeling he wouldn’t be getting up. “There’s only one Big Papi. He’s the man in that situation.”
It was the 11th career walkoff home run for Ortiz, his 10th with the Red Sox. He has 12 with the Sox if you count the 2004 postseason, which certainly does count in these parts.
Texas sent lefthander Michael Kirkman out to start the ninth inning and Jonny Gomes doubled to the gap in left on the first pitch. Rangers manager Ron Washington intentionally walked the righthanded-hitting Dustin Pedroia to get to Ortiz, who hits lefthanded.
Ortiz was surprised he was given the opportunity. His last walkoff hit was in 2010.
“They don’t like to mess with Papi late in the game,” Ortiz said. “They stopped doing that. … To have lefty against lefty, I don’t think there was anything wrong with that. That’s part of the game. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Kirkman had faced Ortiz on Tuesday and struck him out. He started Thursday's at-bat with a sinker that was supposed to stay inside but came back over the plate.
“They were pounding me in all night. I kept on missing pitches but I was sticking with my plan,” Ortiz said.
The ball landed in the Texas bullpen. Ortiz watched it fly, sauntered around the bases, and lowered his shoulder as he approached a mob of joyous teammates.
“I was just thinking the beating that was waiting for me at the plate,” Ortiz said. “You don’t feel anything at the time but it happens the next day when you wake up. You’re all beat up. But it’s good. That means you won the game.”
See the Globe tomorrow for more on the game and Ortiz's reaction.
• Jacoby Ellsbury was 4 for 5 with two doubles and two runs in his first game back after missing five games with a strained left groin. Ellsbury is 20 of 45 in his last 11 games, raising his batting average to .280.
• Jose Iglesias was 1 for 1 with three walks and scored a run. He has hit safely in 10 consecutive games and reached base safely in 18 of the 19 games he has played this season. Iglesias had walked six times in 149 major league plate appearances before Thursday, never more than once in a game.
Iggy is hitting .435/.486/.581. It's only 19 games. But then again, it is 19 games.
Here's the thing about Iglesias: At least now the Red Sox know he is capable of hitting in the majors. Before this season, there was no evidence of that. It's going to be extremely interesting to see how it shakes out with Iglesias, Xander Bogaerts, and Deven Marrero down the road.
• Shane Victorino was 2 for 4 with a home run for Triple A Pawtucket in his first injury rehabilitation game. He started in right field and played seven innings in a 10-5 loss against Charlotte. Victorino is expected to play one or two more games for Pawtucket.
Will Middlebrooks was 1 for 4 with a home run. The third baseman is 4 for 9 with two home runs through three games on his rehab assignment. Victorino is on the disabled list with with a left hamstring strain. Middlebrooks is out with a back strain.