Harold of change: Ortiz ties Baines' DH mark

Jan-Christian Sorensen
Contributing Writer

With everyone in the lineup collecting at least one hit and five different players hitting home runs, Boston’s win in Seattle on Tuesday was the result of a complete team effort.

The game, however, was perhaps more notable for an individual achievement.

With his single to right in the eighth inning, David Ortiz tied Harold Baines for the most career hits by a designated hitter at 1,688. It capped a four-hit night for the 37-year-old, who also homered, doubled twice and went on to steal a base after his milestone hit. Ortiz already owns the career marks by a DH for runs (1,016), doubles (431), homers (369), extra-base hits (817) and RBI (1,207).

It was fitting that Ortiz tied the hits record in Seattle, the city where arguably the best DH, and a player who laid the foundation for future sluggers like Ortiz — Edgar Martinez, who also went by the moniker of “Papi” — played his entire 18-year career and collected 1,607 hits.

Ortiz was quick to acknowledge the influence of both Baines and Martinez after the game.

“I watched (Baines) play when I first came up. Great hitter. Just like Edgar. I watched Edgar for a bit too. Great hitter. Those guys, they did it all in the game. It’s good stuff. I’ve been doing my thing, but I’m going to keep playing. …It’s a good accomplishment, but I’m not really thinking about it right now,” said Ortiz.

It’s been a resurgent season for Big Papi, who is batting .327 with 18 homers and 62 RBI after returning from an Achilles injury that curtailed the latter half of his 2012 season and kept him away from Spring Training this year. He currently ranks third in highest OPS (1.032) by an American League player 37 or older prior to the All-Star Break behind only Ted Williams (1.121 in 1957) and Martinez (1.114 in 2000).

A week ago, Ortiz hit his 500th double in a 4-1 win over San Diego at Fenway to become the 58th player in history to reach that benchmark, and the fifth active player alongside Todd Helton, Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez. The achievement also put him in a select class of only 20 players who have hit 500 doubles and 400 homers.

It’s clear that even at his age, Ortiz will not go gentle into that good night.

“It’s just an outstanding career,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “He just continues to get better with age."

Twitter: @jan_doh