Big Napi gets his "Hacks"

photo Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Jan-Christian Sorensen
Contributing Writer

What a difference a day makes.

One night removed from a four-strikeout performance in a 9-7 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli unleashed a Herculean display of strength on Wednesday, launching a pair of bombs to centre field and pacing the Sox to a 10-1 romp over the Jays.

On a night when David Ortiz extended his hit streak to 22 straight games, it was “Big Napi” who rightfully swiped the spotlight, going three-for-four at the plate and driving in four to boost his league-leading RBI total to 31.

Napoli tattooed a Mark Buehrle pitch 472 feet into the center field seats in the fourth inning and made reliever Esmil Rogers regret intentionally walking Ortiz in the seventh by coming up to the plate next and smiting a 467-foot moon shot into the fourth deck in left center field:


Red Sox manager John Farrell, who coached the Jays for two years before returning to Boston to lead the Sox — where he was pitching coach under Terry Francona from 2007-’10 — said he’s never seen a ball driven that high and deep in the dome.

“I haven’t spent a whole lot of time here relative to others that have seen many games in here but, in the time spent, I have never seen a ball that high up in the center-field area,” said Farrell. “In conditions where the roof is closed and it’s warm in here, the ball definitely flies. This is a good hitter’s ballpark.”

Napoli capped off the night in the ninth inning by hitting his league-leading 14th double of the year.

Also getting in on the home-run derby were Stephen Drew, Mike Carp and Daniel Nava, all of whom chipped in with solo shots of their own.

Napoli clearly has developed a taste for the cavernous Toronto vault: in five games at Rogers Centre so far this season, he has ripped four homers and driven in eleven.

And he’s in good company: as a team, the Sox have stroked 16 homers in their five games North of the border thus far in 2013. Contrast that with Fenway, where they’ve hit 14 in a total of 16 games. 

Napoli’s previous top tape-measure jack at Rogers Centre was a 460-foot blast off Dave Bush April 7.

And while there’s a certain symmetry in lending David Ortiz’s “Big Papi” moniker to “Big Napi”, it was William St. Jean (@wstjean42) who created a new sobriquet for the slugging first baseman after Dustin Pedroia sent out a call across the Twittersphere following the game. St. Jean proposed “Hacksaw” Mike Napoli, after fan favorite World Wrestling Federation grappler and 2x4-wielding, self-styled patriot “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. Napoli himself tweeted his approval, using Duggan's trademark battle cry:

No matter what handle teammates and fans decide to call Napoli, definitely don’t call him slow on the uptake in his corner office at the Department of Clever Rejoinders.

Following the game, Comcast Sports Net mainstay Sean McAdam tweeted Napoli’s terse, tongue-in-cheek answer to a reporter’s callow question that summed up his massive night in three short words:

Twitter: @jan_doh