Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez was dominant after the Red Sox acquired him at the 2014 trade deadline.</p>
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BALTIMORE — Decades from now, assuming that baseball does not hurtle towards a clockless extinction, David Ortiz will remain a reference point in Red Sox history, a necessary landmark and point of comparison for

BALTIMORE — Decades from now, assuming that baseball does not hurtle towards a clockless extinction, David Ortiz will remain a reference point in Red Sox history, a necessary landmark and point of comparison for any slugger in the team’s uniform.

Ortiz slammed a pair of homers — the 33rd and 34th of his season — while driving in three runs, not only propelling his team to a 5-3 victory over the Orioles in 10 innings but also eclipsing 100 RBIs, in the process, crossing the 30-100 threshold for the eighth time in his Red Sox career. He now stands alone in team history for the most such seasons in Sox history, leaving behind Ted Williams, who had seven in his illustrious career.

The volume of seasons Ortiz has produced while reaching recognizable slugging plateaus is impressive enough in its own right. The fact that he is still producing at this level as a 38-year-old qualifies as astonishing and historic. Ortiz became the sixth player in big league history at the age of 38 (or older) to reach 30 homers and 100 RBIs, joining Babe Ruth, Fred McGriff, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro and Frank Thomas.

How?

“They call me Super Papi,” Ortiz grinned. “That’€™s right. Put it down like that.”

Manager John Farrell, however, suggested that there was a bit more to it than that.

“The one thing we’€™re fortunate to see is the way the guy keeps himself in great shape: The way he works out, the way he prepares, in addition to [being] talented and one hell of a hitter,” said Farrell. “I don’€™t know if you can say enough positives and accolades for what David Ortiz not only did tonight but what he’€™s done over an incredible career. He comes up big twice again for us tonight, no bigger than in that 10th inning and considering how many RBIs, how many home runs he contributed this year, I’€™d hate to think where we’€™d be without him.”

While the Sox’ 67-87 record and last-place standing somewhat mitigate the sense of accomplishment, Ortiz nonetheless recognized the significance of surpassing Williams.

“Too bad we are in the situation we are in but just like I always say, just a compliment when your name is attached to a legend like Mr. Williams,” said Ortiz. “[It's] something that is based on a lot of consistency and work.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Joe and Dave talk with David Ortiz after he hits two home runs to propel the Red Sox to an extra-innings win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Joe and Dave talk with David Ortiz after he hits two home runs to propel the Red Sox to an extra-innings win over the Baltimore Orioles.

[0:00:27] ... wonderful achievement thirty homers -- hundred RBIs. The eighth time in your Red Sox career you've done that more times and Ted Williams did -- you're number one Red Sox history in that category how does that make you feel. It was good fifth you know on me but I would say ...
[0:01:59] ... to back do you get excited about the potential of next year's Red Sox seem to score more runs. Definitely different way back I would say off and stuff and it's been a fluke because -- that's the reason why you got my brother. I'm going to go about about the game district everybody to. Comb through last year we won the World Series we have everybody. The possibly something you don't know. What a while way you gonna get hurt because they were it was. ...
[0:03:33] ... much congratulations. Are so happy for you think he gets the the Red Sox win 53 David Ortiz 34 homers on with two RBIs. ...





(For the final month of the regular season, ‘€œClosing Time’€ will be called ‘€œWhy you should have cared,’€ looking beyond the final score ‘€” at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) ‘€” for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)

(For the final month of the regular season, ‘€œClosing Time’€ will be called ‘€œWhy you should have cared,’€ looking beyond the final score ‘€” at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) ‘€” for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)

David Ortiz keeps adding to his resume as one of the greatest Red Sox hitters ever. (Getty Images)

David Ortiz keeps adding to his resume as one of the greatest Red Sox hitters ever. (Getty Images)

BALTIMORE — Reality check: The Red Sox offense has been little better than atrocious this year. The team entered Friday with the fewest runs (583) and runs per game (3.81) of any club in the American League. And so, when a player proves capable of delivering run production within that group, it commands notice.

In an otherwise forgettable year, David Ortiz has commanded plenty of notice. The slugger continued to do just that in the Sox’ 5-3, 10-inning victory over the Orioles on Friday night, slamming a pair of homers — his 34th and 35th of the year — and driving in three runs — his 100th, 101st and 102nd of 2014 — to further distinguish his place in Red Sox history.

He now has eight 30/100 seasons with the Red Sox, breaking a tie with Ted Williams for the most such years in franchise history. He is the sixth player ever to produce a 30/100 season at the age of 38 or later (joining Frank Thomas, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Fred McGriff and Babe Ruth) His 34 homers are his most since hitting 35 in 2007. He is in the top five in the American League in both homers and RBIs.

On a team that has had a shortage of even average performances to buttress him, Ortiz has remained elite.

OTHER REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE CARED ABOUT FRIDAY’S GAME

Mookie Betts, in his first exposure to the big leagues, has proven capable of delivering excitement. Friday night at Camden Yards offered a glimpse of what increasingly looks like a player with game-changing offensive abilities.

Against a pitcher considered one of the top young talents in the game in Orioles starter Kevin Gausman, Betts had three tremendous at-bats in an eventual 2-for-5 game. He drilled a 2-1 fastball for a long flyout to the warning track, about 400 feet from home plate, to open the game, spit on a pair of sliders before smoking a 95 mph 2-0 fastball up the middle for a single in the third and then navigated an 11-pitch at-bat that included six two-strike foul balls (three on splitters, three on fastballs) before ripping a liner up the middle for a single.

But what he did after reaching first in that second single was what truly commanded notice. When David Ortiz lined an 0-2 pitch off the warning track in right, Betts never hesitated. While Ortiz could advance no further than first given the proximity of the right field scoreboard in right at Camden Yards, Betts pushed the envelope with two outs and, though beaten to the plate by the relay throw, kicked the ball out of the glove of catcher Caleb Joseph for a run scored from first.

While most of the Red Sox look like they are running on fumes, Betts is showing another gear. In 31 games since the Red Sox recalled him in mid-August to be an everyday player, he is now hitting .302 with a .391 OBP and .448 slugging mark.

His ability to see a lot of pitches, work counts and impact the game while on the bases suggests that, while the Sox remain in a period of evaluation with Rusney Castillo, they already quite clearly possess a player with top-of-the-order skills. Barring a trade, the Sox will not enter 2015 with the same riddle at the top of their lineup that they encountered in 2014.

– Though he was facing a skeletal Orioles lineup that was without most of its regulars, Allen Webster made his third straight solid start, permitting one run on seven hits (five singles, two doubles) in 5 2/3 innings. He walked just one — the second straight outing in which he issued but one free pass — and struck out three. Over his last three starts, Webster now has a 3.18 ERA with four walks and 10 strikeouts in 17 innings.

– Rusney Castillo offered a bit of a defensive showcase, getting good breaks on a pair of liners in the bottom of the first inning (making one catch on the run and another with a sliding catch just off the ground) and also recorded his first big league assist by throwing out Alejandro De Aza, attempting to score from second on a single, with a one-hop seed to the plate.

– The promising defensive glimpses from Castillo stood in contrast to the performances by other members of the Sox. Daniel Nava failed to haul in a long fly ball to right center, which clanged off his glove for a run-scoring triple. Xander Bogaerts made a bad throw to first on a routine grounder that permitted the tying run to score. Garin Cecchini once again sailed a throw to first (though Allen Craig managed to extend just far enough to bring it in for the out). Craig struggled to hold the bag with his foot.

The struggles of Cecchini and Bogaerts on what should have been routine plays are particularly noteworthy. Bogaerts has been considerably better in recent weeks at shortstop than he was just after shifting back to the position, but still, the long-term possibility of pairing the two of them on the left side of the infield will require considerable defensive improvement from at least one.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

BALTIMORE — Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting .203 with a .271 OBP and .272 slugging mark this year. Christian Vazquez is hitting .217/.278/.268.

Christian Vazquez

Christian Vazquez

BALTIMORE — Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting .203 with a .271 OBP and .272 slugging mark this year. Christian Vazquez is hitting .217/.278/.268.

Yet whereas Bradley’s offensive performance in 414 plate appearances has raised questions about his future big league role, the Sox have a more optimistic view of Vazquez’s offensive performance.

“He’€™s handled different types of pitching well. The batting average, I recognize what it is. He’€™s squared up a number of balls. Sometimes they haven’€™t fallen. I think he’€™s doing a very good job for us in all phases and I wouldn’€™t be, I guess the best way to say it … his batting average, that doesn’€™t concern me right now.”

Asked if he viewed Vazquez as a big league-caliber hitter right now, Farrell didn’t hesitate to answer in the affirmative. He cited Vazquez’s ability to execute in the details of the game, primarily by getting the bat on the ball (whether for sacrifice bunts or situational hitting), in explaining his view.

“Setting aside the batting average, there’€™s the ability to handle a bat. He can execute the small game. He can hit to the situation. He’€™s a very good situational hitter, including being able to sacrifice with great consistency,” said Farrell. “He’€™s probably one of the more, I would say he’€™s one of the more complete hitters that has come to us, setting aside the batting average.”

Farrell said that he could envision Vazquez as his Opening Day catcher — though he noted that having him in such a role in 2015 might depend on the shape of the rest of the roster.

“I think he’€™s ready and capable of handling that [Opening Day starting] role. I think what will be as important is who is paired up with him,” said Farrell. “That’€™s not to eliminate anyone that’€™s here. That’€™s not to suggest who that might be. Christian is, I think, in short order, has gained a reputation around the league to be somewhat of a shutdown thrower with the aggressiveness of his picks, of his throws to bags. Like we said, he’€™s a focal point for a team when they’€™re on offense, to have to contend with behind the plate.”

In terms of that defense, Farrell said that Vazquez is doing “a very good job” behind the plate, something that remains true even as he’s reached a career single-season high for games played (between Triple-A and the big leagues) with 114 and games caught with 100.

He wants to play every day,” said Farrell. :He’€™s adamant about it. He knows when he’€™s not in the lineup, he’€™s respectful of it, but he makes it known that he wants to catch every day. He’€™s showing durability. And again, I know it’€™s in a short window here, but he’€™s answered the bell every time we’€™ve asked.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

BALTIMORE — While some members of the Red Sox are contemplating the end of their season, Rusney Castillo’s baseball season remains in its early stages, a notion made official by Sox manager John Farrell on Friday.