Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz hit his first triple of the season Sunday in Boston’s 5-0 victory over the Blue Jays, driving a Shaun Marcum pitch into the tricky left-center field gap at Fenway Park.
The annual Big Papi triple has become a sort of tradition for Red Sox fans and the beat writers who cover them. He has managed at least one three-bagger per season since 2000, when he was a member of the Twins.
No matter what you might think about “Red Sox Nation” and Big Papi as a personality, it’s always pretty great to see those big legs trucking around the basepaths.
As Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal points out, Ortiz is one of only three American League players to have a triple in each of the last 11 seasons and the Red Sox have won eight of the 10 games in which he has accomplished the feat.
Ortiz is batting .267 with a healthy .919 OPS, 27 homers, 27 doubles and 79 RBI over 393 at-bats this season. Sunday’s single and triple raised his slugging percentage a whole five points, from .542 to .547.
The Red Sox are 6.5 games back of the Yankees in the American League East and 5.5 games behind the Rays in the hunt for the AL’s Wild Card.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.