NEW YORK -- Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was autographing a boxful of baseballs for equipment manager Tom McLaughlin, his last act before leaving Citi Field to catch the team bus to the airport Sunday afternoon, when a visitor popped up at his elbow.
“Way to swing the bat," said David Dombrowski, the team’s new president of baseball operations. “You got that one."
“That kid was abusing this old man, throwing 99," Ortiz said, referring to right-hander Noah Syndergaard, the last of the three aces the Mets threw at Boston this weekend.
“You turned it around pretty well," said Dombrowski, referring to the 393-foot home run that Ortiz lined off the Pepsi Porch sign adorning the facing of the stadium’s second deck in right field.
Ortiz smiled. “Not bad," he said.
Ortiz’s two-run home run off Syndergaard ended an impressive display of power this weekend against the National League East leaders. Friday night, Ortiz hit the first pitch he saw from reliever Logan Verrett for a home run to break a seventh-inning scoreless tie in a game the Red Sox would win in extra innings.
Saturday afternoon, he did not start, but as a pinch hitter, he smacked a double high off the center-field wall, barely beating the tag at second base. Mets manager Terry Collins said the next morning that the Mets were convinced Ortiz was out, but they did not challenge the play because they were afraid an instant replay review would show that it was a home run, much like Blake Swihart's “inside-the-park” home run had cleared the boundary line the night before.
And on Sunday, Ortiz’s home run in the sixth off Syndergaard, who had allowed just nine extra-base hits in nine starts at home, gave the Sox a short-lived 2-1 lead. The Mets rallied with three runs in the bottom of the inning and ultimately prevailed, 5-4, to salvage the finale of this three-game set.
The home run was Ortiz’s 28th this season, 13th in 39 games since the All-Star break, and 494th of his career, which broke a tie with Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff for 27th place on the all-time list.
“I heard about Lou Gehrig when I was a kid," he said. “To have my name next to people like that is great, man, an honor."
And what about McGriff? Had he heard about him as a kid, too?
“That’s my dawg, man, my dawg," Ortiz said with a laugh, mindful that his career overlapped with that of McGriff, 51, who retired after the 2004 season. “I’m sure he’s going to holler at me at some point. ‘Hey what are you doing?’ One of my favorite players, too."
While Ortiz will have 32 more games in which to reach the 500 home run milestone, not to mention collect another $3 million in performance clauses in his contract, he was able to pack away his glove for 2015. The Sox played their last game this season in a National League park. Ortiz started nine of those games at first base, which did not have a negative impact on his hitting. He batted .367 (11-for-30) with five home runs and nine RBIs.
He came out of Friday night’s game with some tightness in his left heel, and Sunday was forced to make a diving catch of Wade Miley's low throw on Ruben Tejada's roller. He will not miss having to exert his 39-year-old bones in that fashion.
“I’m so freaking happy," he said.
Ortiz was charged with his first error since 2009 when he was handcuffed by Miley’s attempted pickoff of Juan Uribe in the fourth.
“Bro, did I tell you what happened with that throw from Miley?" he said. “Miley’s move to first base is unbelievable.
“I’m right here, and when he pulled his leg up, my eyes went to the plate because I’m thinking he’s going to the plate. Last second, out of the corner of my eye I saw him throw to first base. Good thing he threw me a strike, because my eyes are already going this way.
“Funny thing is, I got back to the dugout, that’s when guys started talking about that move. I’m like, ‘Why didn’t you guys say something an inning earlier? Surprised the hell out of me. Bro, I’m serious. I didn’t see anything bending or anything."
He laughed as McLaughlin helped him slip on his sports jacket.
“I’m too old for this," he said.