ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It wouldn't be a Red Sox-Rays series without a little ill-will.
The two teams have a history of on-field brawls and off-field verbal exchanges, both of which came to a head earlier this season when David Price hit David Ortiz, in apparent retaliation for Ortiz's excessive admiration of a home run hit last October.
Several hit batsmen and a suspension later, it continued.
This weekend, there was a big buildup for an Ortiz-Price rematch, but little took place when the two squared off Friday.
On Sunday, however, Ortiz raised the Rays' ire when he flipped his bat after hitting a three-run bomb to right field in the third inning.
"I don't know what makes him think he can showboat like that,'' fumed Chris Archer, who gave up the shot.
Ortiz dismissed Archer's comments.
"That's pretty much what I do,'' shrugged Ortiz. "Tie game, you put the team ahead, you enjoy it.''
Ortiz went on to both praise Archer, noting: "He's a good pitcher. He's got great stuff. He's a guy that I think is going to be pretty good."
He later added that perhaps Archer was over his head in dictating on-field protocol because he's been "in the big leagues for like two days.''
Histrionics aside, the homer capped quite a week for Ortiz, who homered in each of the first three games in Toronto.
On Saturday night, Ortiz lined a ball to right that a fan reached for and caught, resulting in a ruling of fan interference and limiting Ortiz to a ground rule double.
On Sunday, there was no room for interpretation. The homer was crushed deep into the right field seats.
"I should have (had another) yesterday,'' said Ortiz smiling. "No controversy this time. I made sure it went way over the fence and I didn't have to deal with that.''
It was only a week ago that Ortiz was 1-for-15 in the first series after the break, but whatever was limiting him at the plate is now gone.
"I'm feeling better at the plate,'' he said. "After the break, those four games sitting at home kind of gets your timing off a little bit, but I'm back into it. Almost in Jamaica.''
Ortiz now has 25 homers this season and is on pace to outstrip his production from a year ago when he hit 30. Barring an injury, he should reach 30 this season by Labor Day.
"He's swung the bat exceptionally well, even for the standards he sets for himself,'' said John Farrell. "To have that kind of power and that kind of production in the lineup, he's a tremendous hitter.''
At 38, Ortiz's batting average may be down, but he has more homers that any lefthanded hitter in the American League and more RBI (76) than any lefty hitter in the game.
"It says he's not slowing down,'' said Farrell. "People on the outside are not privy to the work he puts in. He keeps himself in great shape. He's a student of hitting.
He has a feel for what pitchers are trying to do to him and when he gets a pitch on the plate, he hadn't missed it. He's an exceptional hitter.''