BOSTON – David Ortiz continued to prove that his lengthy layoff did not adversely affect his productivity. He went 2-for-3, with a double, three RBI, a sacrifice fly, and a walk, as the Red Sox beat the Astros, 8-4, at Fenway Park Saturday night. In six games since being activated from the DL on April 20, he is batting .519, going 4-for-27, with a slugging percentage of .889 and an on-base percentage of .533.
And manager John Farrell couldn’t have written it any better.
“I think the fact is he’s got a major injury that he suffered a year ago that’s behind him,” said manager John Farrell. “And we all know what type of hitter he is. And when you see the progression and the continued improvement over the last two years, particularly against left-handed pitching. Tonight was the case again.”
In the fourth inning Ortiz greeted Astros lefty Travis Blackley with a sacrifice fly to left field to score Daniel Nave.
“Blackley's got good stuff,” Farrell said. “And the sac fly on a good fastball that was off the plate, away, that’s not easy to do. I think we’re all recognizing that he’s doing things that look to him to be very easy. But it's hard to imagine or to script out that he would come back and have this kind of performance given the layoff.”
Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 19 games, going back to July 2, 2012. In that stretch he is hitting .470, going 31-for-66, with six doubles, four home runs, 15 RBI, and 15 walks. That matches his career high, with a 19-game streak, in 2002 while with the Twins.
With his seven-game hitting streak to start the season, he has set a new personal best to start a season. His previous was six straight games in 2005.
His sixth-inning walk was the 827th of his career, passing Harry Hooper for fifth place on the Sox all-time list.
* Jonny Gomes, who went into the game in the seventh inning as a pinch hitter for Mike Carp, made a nice catch in the eighth with two runners on, and a run already in, to rob Robbie Grossman.
“If that ball gets over his head, that inning has a chance to get more interesting than it was already,” Farrell said. “But he’s done an excellent job defensively in left field for us.”
* At 17-7, and with the Rangers losing to the Twins Saturday afternoon, the Sox now have the best record in baseball. The Sox are off to their best start since beginning 2002 at 17-7. Their 10 home wins are the most in the American League.
* The Sox are 14-0 in games started by Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and Felix Doubront.
* The Sox have won six of their eight series this season.
* Sox pitchers have struck out at least 11 batters in each of the last four games, the longest such streak in team history and the longest in the majors this season. Sox pitchers have struck out 10 or more batters in 16 of the 24 games this season, most in the majors.
* Right-hander Daniel Bard made his second appearance since being called up April 24 from Double-A Portland. He entered to start the eighth, but after walking the two batters he faced, was replaced by Alex Wilson. Bard threw nine pitches, just one strike.
* Will Middlebrooks went 2-for-3, with a double and a walk. Raising his average from .184 to .200. It was his second consecutive multi-hit game, after going 15 straight games with one or no hit. He has three straight games with an extra-base hit, his longest streak of the season.
* Craig Breslow pitched one scoreless inning for Triple-A Pawtucket Saturday night in his second rehab outing. He gave up one hit and walk with a strikeout, throwing 15 pitches, seven for strikes.
* Breslow and Joel Hanrahan are expected to pitch for Pawtucket on Sunday, continuing their rehab assignments.
* With John Lackey expected to be activated from the disabled list to start Sunday, catcher Ryan Lavarnway is expected to return to Pawtucket.