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.
Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.
This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.
Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.
Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.