Friendly Fenway: Pop back in Big Papi's bat

photo Winslow Towson/USA Today Sports

Jan-Christian Sorensen
Contributing Writer

Welcome back, David Ortiz. We missed you.

After a brutal seven-game road trip in which the Red Sox designated hitter went three-for-26 (.115) with only one RBI, Ortiz busted out of the slump in a big way at home Tuesday, driving in three and powering Boston to a 5-1 win in the opener of a doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays.

In the third inning Ortiz paid little attention to the Rays’ David-Ortiz-defensive-alignment, ripping a Chris Archer four-seam fastball up the middle to cash in Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino as the eventual game-winning runs and give the Sox a 3-1 lead.

“Ortiz’s big two-run single kind of works against their shift a little bit, (he) finds a way to get the two-run RBI,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “It was a solid performance all around by the guys at the plate.” 

Sure, the team notched eight hits in the victory, but it was Ortiz who made all the difference.

In the fifth inning Big Papi picked up right where he left off, turning on another Archer fastball and stroking a single to right to drive in Victorino — who reached on an error — for a 4-1 lead and push Dustin Pedroia over to third.

In the second game of the twin bill, Ortiz went two-for-four with a double but no RBIs, raising his plate average to .307.

Obviously, Ortiz was glad to be back in the friendly confines of Fenway Park, where he went seven-for-27 with three homers and 12 RBI in Boston’s most recent six-game home stand.

This season Ortiz has been ravenous at the dish when he surveys the field and spots men on the bags. The 37-year-old DH is hitting a blistering .500/.625/1.000 with men on second and third and .458/.480/1.083 when first and second are occupied. And when there’s a duck on the pond at third that needs rescuing, Ortiz is .750/.600/.750.

However, when the bases are empty, Ortiz’s totals plummet to .287/.343/.585.

Nothing wrong with needing an incentive, Big Papi. Nothing at all.

Twitter: @jan_doh