Big Bunting Papi

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Big Bunting Papi

This afternoon at Fenway, David Ortiz celebrated Tim Wakefield Day in spectacular fashion.

First, with a home run a towering shot into the bullpen but honestly that's nothing new. It was the 328th of Ortiz's Red Sox career, and certainly won't be his last.

More interesting, is what Ortiz did in his next at-bat

Send a bunt down the third baseline against the shifted infield for an easy, stand-up single.

This is something I'd love for Ortiz to do more of. Not too much, obviously. But if every once in a while maybe every 10 at-bats, or whenever the time's right Ortiz simply laid an easy bunt down the line, it would really make teams have to re-think the shift. It would re-open gaps for a guy who's currently using the WHOLE field better than perhaps at any point in his career.

How many bunt singles would it take for the shift to slowly fade away: Five?

So, why not pull that punch a little more often?

Anyway, like I said before, today was Papi's 328th home run with the Sox, and while I'm not 100 positive on this next number, I believe it was the sixth bunt single of his career.

But here's what I know for sure. It wasn't his first time hitting a home run and a bunt single in the same game. That's happened at least once before.

April 23, 2006 in a 6-3 win over the Blue Jays.

And who started for the Sox on that fateful day? You guessed it, the man of the hour at Fenway Park: Tim Wakefield!

Just kidding.

It was Matt Clement.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

Boston pitchers strike out 14, but Red Sox still fall to Rays, 7-3

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.