Ortiz in elite company as he approaches No. 400

678996.jpg

Ortiz in elite company as he approaches No. 400

He provided half of the Red Sox offense Monday night, which seems about right when you think of it, since that seems to have been the case most nights this season.

On a team ravaged by injuries, he's been the one constant. There's been no Manny Ramirez to protect him, or, for that matter, no Adrian Gonzalez, or at least, not the Adrian Gonzalez (.722 OPS) he or anyone else expected.

Still, the numbers pile up for David Ortiz. On Monday, he belted two homers and three RBI in a 9-6 loss to Toronto.

The homers were the lone bit of excitement for the Sox, and if they didn't help the Red Sox win on this particular night, they did help Ortiz climb the historical ladder some.

The first one, rocketed into the bleachers in right, moved him out of a tie with Joe Carter, giving him 397 for his career. The second, a booming shot into the bleachers in straightaway center, was No. 398, placing him in a tie with Dale Murphy for 51st place on the all-time list.

For the season, the second homer was No. 20, making it 10 straight years in which Ortiz has reached that number since coming to the Red Sox, trailing only Dwight Evans and Jim Rice (11 each) and Ted Williams (16).

Since 2003, only one player has had more multi-homer games in all of baseball: Albert Pujols, who has 40.

The two-homer game was the 39th of his career and 37th in a Red Sox uniform, tying him with Williams for the frachise record.

Nearing four hundred homers, catching up to Rice and Pujols, and being linked with the game's all-time greatest hitter -- this is the kind of rarefied air that Ortiz is breathing these days.

"I must be,'' said Ortiz, breaking into a huge smile, "a bad mother-(expletive).''

Indeed he must.

This year, Ortiz is hitting homers at his fastest rate since 2006, when he snapped Jimmy Foxx's franchise record for most homers by a Red Sox in a season.

Before the season is at its halfway point, Ortiz is on pace to hit 40, something no Red Sox player his age (36) or older has ever accomplished.

And, no Red Sox player age 36 or older has ever hit 40 home runs in a season. Williams, naturally, holds the Red Sox record of 38 in 1957 when he was 38.

"When you attach your name to a legend like that . . .,'' said Ortiz. "It's just something that you never think about it. I never thought about anything like that. I came here to play baseball. Ted Williams is a legend. I never thought about (matching what he did).''

Sometime relatively soon -- perhaps before the Red Sox leave for their West Coast trip Wednesday night, given that he's homered five times in his last seven games -- Ortiz will become the 50th player to hit 400 homers in his career.

Even as the steroid era has devalued some milestones, the 400-homer plateau is an impressive one, and Ortiz confesses that he's taken a look at those who've joined that club, while noting some who didn't gain entrance.

"I was looking at a lot of big names,'' he said, ''and man, I mean, there were a lot of big power hitters who never hit four hundred. So I guess it's pretty good company.''

Ortiz would like to play another two years, and should he continue to pile up homers at the rate in which he's hit them the last few seasons, he might muster a run at No. 500.

Those numbers seem abstract for now, and because he's not finished, he chooses not to give much thought to his own standing, his own legacy.

That perspective will come later.

"Right now, I look at (No. 400) as just another number,'' he said. "But I'm pretty sure that when I stop playing and start focusing on different people's numbers and look at myself and where I stand with some great players, it's going to be pretty nice.''

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello has ability to adjust

mcadamsnc04301462075715094_3450k_1280x720_677158979552.jpg

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello has ability to adjust

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 8-0 win over the Yankees:

QUOTES:

"He threw all four pitches tonight for strikes, but most importantly, (he's shown) the ability to make adjustments from pitch-to-pitch. If he gets out of whack or misses with a pitch, he's right back in the strike zone.'' - John Farrell on Rick Porcello.

"You look back at the first month and I think we've gained a lot of trust in each other up and down the lineup. That to me is the strongest attribute right now on this team.'' - Farrell on the Red Sox after one month of play.

"Pretty similar. I'm getting a lot of timely hits, and it's helping the team.'' - Jackie Bradley Jr., asked if this last week is similar to the hot streak he enjoyed last August.

"I'm comfortable. I'm in a good place, mentally and physically. I worked really hard to get where I am now and I'm going to continue to work.'' – Bradley on his hot streak.

"Much better fastball command. I've been able to execute my sinker better and that's allowed me to get ahead of hitters and if I do fall behind, I've been able to come back.'' - Porcello on cutting his walk rate by more than half compared to this point a year ago.

NOTES:

* The shutout at Fenway was the first for the Red Sox against the Yankees since May 14, 2011.

* The eight-run margin was the biggest margin in a Red Sox shutout over the Yankees since Sept. 6, 2003 when they won 11-0 in New York.

* The four triples in April for Jackie Bradley Jr. are the most for a Red Sox hitter in that month since Jose Offerman in 1999.

* In his last nine games against the Yankees, Bradley is 14-for-31 (.452) with nine extra-base hits.

* Rick Porcello's 5-0 start to the season is the best run for a Red Sox starter since Josh Beckett was 7-0 in 2007.

* The Yankees have failed to homer in seven games this season; they're 0-7 in those games.

STARS:

1) Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley had three extra-base hits (two triples and a double) for eight total bases, and knocked in three runs.

2) Rick Porcello

The Red Sox starter tossed seven shutout innings and allowed only two baserunners into scoring position while issuing just one walk.

3) Mookie Betts

Betts had a double in the second and a single in the sixth, good for three RBI, a season high for him.

First impressions from Red Sox' 8-0 win over Yankees: Bradley on a tear

jackie_bradley_jr_red_sox.jpg

First impressions from Red Sox' 8-0 win over Yankees: Bradley on a tear

First impressions from the Red Sox' 8-0 win over the Yankees:

* Rick Porcello doesn't seem like a weak link in the rotation now.

Porcello blanked the Yankees for seven innings and is now 5-0 with a 2.76 ERA for the season. For the fourth time in five outings, he pitched into the seventh innings.

The Yankees threatened only once - in the fifth, when they had runners at the corners and two out. But Porcello got Jacoby Ellsbury to ground out, stranding two and was never in trouble again.

Porcello's command is improved over a year ago. In his first five starts last year, covering 30 innings, he walked 10. This year, he's pitched 32 2/3 innings and issued just five walks.

* Jackie Bradley is swinging it like he did last August.

Bradley went on an extra-base tear late last summer, rocketing doubles, triples and homers for a stretch of a few weeks that was completely unexpected.

The last week has been like that stretch, with seven extra-base hits in the last seven games. He knocked in the first run of the night with a double to left, then delivered another in the sixth with a triple to the triangle and two more in the seventh with a triple into the right field corner.

In the two games against the Yankees, he's got four extra-base hits, a walk and five RBI.

* David Ortiz has started 20 games this season. He's knocked in 19 runs.

Ortiz added his second homer in as many nights, to go along with a single and walk.

It's doubtful that he's going to keep up his RBI-per-game pace, but when he's locked in the way he is now, he impacts virtually the entire lineup from the cleanup position.

* If you think Pablo Sandoval was bad, maybe you haven't been watching Chase Headley.

The Yankee third baseman was a free agent the same winter that Sandoval was and some argued that he would have been a better fit for the Sox than was Panda.

But 22 games into the 2016 season, Headley has yet to collect a single base hit and has an OPS of .405. He's hitting .153 and has virtually no range to speak of at third base.

* A lot has changed for Junichi Tazawa.

A year ago, Tazawa was overworked in the first half of the season. On Saturday night, he got an inning of work in the ninth in a blowout game because he hadn't pitched since last Sunday -- thanks to strong starting efforts from the rotation over the past two series.