Hitting for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Ortiz delivered his first pinch-hit homer since April 27, 2003 to break a 3-3 tie in the top of the ninth and lead the Red Sox to a 4-3 win over the Tigers in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader.
Ortiz’s previous pinch-hit homer came in his first month with the Red Sox. Hitting for Jeremy Giambi in that one, he gave the Red Sox a lead in the top of the 14th in a game against the Angels, making a winner of Ramiro Mendoza.
It was also Ortiz’s second homer in two career at-bats against Tigers closer Jose Valverde. He hit a grand slam the previous time he faced him.
The Red Sox, who also got homered from Mike Cameron and Dustin Pedroia in the contest, won their fourth straight and will go for a four-game sweep in Detroit when they play the second game of a doubleheader tonight.
Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.
No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.
Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:
Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.
Manfred didn’t stop there, however.
An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?