TORONTO -- David Ortiz was in a familiar position on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
With one out and two on in the sixth inning, the Toronto Blue Jays went to reliever Joaquin Benoit to face the Boston Red Sox's designated hitter, and just as he did in October 2013, Ortiz took Joaquin Benoit's change up deep, hitting a three-run home run.
The home run, Ortiz’s 32nd of the season, gave the Red Sox a 10-8 lead –- one they did not relinquish, going on to defeat the Blue Jays 11-8. More importantly, it improved their lead atop the American League East to two games.
Though a lesser stage, the matchup felt similar for Ortiz.
In Game 2 of the 2013 American League Championship Series with the Red Sox trailing the Detroit Tigers 5-1, Ortiz took Benoit’s changeup deep for a grand slam.
"I thought I was getting a different menu, but he just threw me a hittable [pitch]," Ortiz said. "It wasn't that bad [of a pitch] -- it was right at the bottom of the strike zone, where the pitcher wants to make that pitch."
With three RBIs, Ortiz (110) moved past Dave Winfield (108) for the most RBIs in a season by a player 40 years or older. The home run also moved Ortiz (535) past Jimmie Foxx for 18th on the all-time home run list. Ortiz is now one behind Mickey Mantle for 17th.
"Just a dramatic home run once again from David against Benoit," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "A few years ago, there was another memorable one. This might not have been the same stage, but where we are, against that team, really no less important.
"David is such an integral part of this team, has been for a number of years. He's loved hitting in this ballpark -- that speaks for itself. Today was a big moment for him as well. It was key for us. I think we're somewhat in awe of what David is doing in this final run."
Ortiz finished his final regular-season appearance in Toronto 1-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. Following his eighth-inning strikeout, Ortiz received an ovation from many of the 47,816 in attendance and raised his arm to acknowledge the crowd.
"It was great. That's one thing I'm going to miss it the most," Ortiz said. "Fans here in Canada are pretty much like the fans we have at home. They're cheering for their ballclub, supporting it.
"Last year in the playoffs, I was watching, man, it was magical. As a player, that's what you want to see. When you see that, you take the game to the next level. It's something that brings some flashbacks to myself while I was watching on TV 'cause that's [how] our fans are. Only advice I can give to the Blue Jays fans is keep on going; you guys are doing great."
Clay Buchholz hadn’t allowed a run in his previous 11 innings against the Blue Jays and was 11-3 with a 2.18 ERA in 16 games in Toronto. However, the 32-year-old right-hander struggled, allowing six earned runs on four hits while walking four and striking out three in just three innings.
The Boston bullpen managed to bail out its starter, holding Toronto to just two runs on four hits the rest of the way.
With the victory, the Red Sox took two of three from the Blue Jays. The two AL East foes meet again Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox now head home for a seven-game homestand beginning Monday night with the Baltimore Orioles, who are tied with the Blue Jays, two games behind after a 3-1 win over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.
"We're going, we're moving, we got that mojo back," Ortiz said. "We had a good road trip. Second half has been pretty much away every game. We're in a good position right now; we're looking pretty well right now. Our pitching has been outstanding. Today was a little crazy, but the bullpen stepped up and did a good job. We're in good shape."