Ortiz authors another victory
After tormenting Yanks, slugger heads to book release party
BOSTON -- David Ortiz, who turned a fourth-inning fastball into a two-run titanic blast before a bedazzled sellout crowd at Fenway Park, was in a hurry after tormenting the Yankees on Saturday.
He was pressed for time. The Red Sox's designated hitter had a book release party to make and, after 3 1/2 hours of baseball resulted in a 7-5 victory against the Bronx Bombers, had little time to make it.
Ortiz, the author of a tidy 10-RBI week and a newly published autobiography entitled "Big Papi: My Story of Big Dreams and Big Hits," had places to be and, uncharacteristically, little patience for talk. But after five years of raking New York pitching -- Ortiz has a .589 career slugging percentage against the Yankees in 336 at-bats, a figure that has ballooned with the years -- what else was there left to say?
"He's Shakespeare. You know?" said second baseman Alex Cora of Ortiz. "He hits home runs, writes books. It's his day."
There was no such cause for celebration for the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, his home-run swing silenced for the first time in five games.
Rodriguez extended his season-opening hitting streak to 16 with a third-inning double, his 19th extra-base hit this season. But he finished the day in the on-deck circle, his team saddled with a second straight defeat at Fenway.
Ortiz took care to compliment the man whose efforts in the early going of 2007, including two home runs against Curt Schilling on Friday, have wowed even Red Sox fans. Rodriguez, notably, won the 2005 American League MVP over Ortiz. Big Papi finished second.
"I don't know [why] people sometimes complain about his hitting in situations," Ortiz said of Rodriguez. "But, I mean, I'd take A-Rod's numbers any time, any day and any team. You don't get those numbers out there any day."
On Saturday, Ortiz got the better of his rival. In the first inning, he sent a high, rocketing double beyond the outstretched glove of Yankees right fielder Bobby Abreu, answering two runs by the Yankees with his first two RBIs of the game. Rodriguez struck out looking in the top half of the first.
In the fourth, Ortiz turned on an inside fastball from New York starter Jeff Karstens, arcing a high home run around Pesky's Pole in right. The two-run shot gave the Red Sox and pitchers Josh Beckett, Hideki Okajima, Mike Timlin and Jon Papelbon the chance to cement a 7-4 lead.
"He seems to rise to the occasion," manager Terry Francona said. "And these are big occasions."
It took five innings and more than a few pitching changes, but the Red Sox made themselves winners. Three weeks into the season, Boston sits in first place with a healthy and productive pitching staff, a multi-dimensional offensive attack and a time-honored Yankee slayer.
"We've just got to ride it out with him, because Dave's going to take us a long way," Kevin Youkilis said.
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.