It came as no surprise on Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards when David Ortiz — who was turfed from Saturday’s game in the seventh for arguing with home plate umpire Tim Timmons and then flipped his lid, demolishing a dugout phone with his bat — faced a swirling flock of boo-birds when he stepped to the dish in the first.
But Big Papi quickly quieted the chirps with a single to right, and then silenced them completely two innings later when he made a long-distance call to left on a Jason Hammel slider, giving the Red Sox a 3-0 lead on his 20th homer of the season.
One day after mashing Ma Bell, Ortiz was appropriately dialed in, going 4 for 4 with a pair of RBI and scoring twice as he paced his team to a 5-0 win.
On the bump, Jon Lester was far from lackluster, scattering four hits and two walks over seven scoreless frames while striking out eight for his best outing since he one-hit the Jays at Fenway on May 10. With the win, Lester moved to 10-6 on the year and lowered his ERA to 4.27.
More importantly, New York edged the Tampa Bay Rays 6-5 at Yankee Stadium to push the Red Sox back into the lead in the American League East by a half-game over the Rays. The back-and-forth battle between Boston and the surging Rays continues tomorrow, when Tampa Bay comes to Fenway for the makeup of a July 25 rainout as Felix Doubront (7-4, 3.78 ERA) takes on David Price (5-5, 3.75 ERA) at 6:10 pm EST.
Here are the four at-bats that changed the game:
1) Magic Mike: After Ortiz singled to move Shane Victorino to third, Mike Napoli cashed him in with a double to right field, giving the Sox an early 1-0 advantage.
2) Hello, Operator: One night after destroying the phone in the Red Sox dugout after being ejected arguing balls and strikes with the home plate umpire, Ortiz launched a deep drive to left center to give Boston a 3-0 lead.
3) Around The Horn: With two men on and one out in the sixth, Lester threw a changeup and got shortstop J.J. Hardy to ground into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play to end the threat.
4) Salty Peppers It: In the eighth inning after reliever T.J. McFarland intentionally walked Jonny Gomes to load the bases and get to backstop Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Salty made him pay, singling to right to drive in Ortiz and Napoli for a 5-0 lead.