Red Sox-Mariners Preview
Ortiz tries to stay hot as the Boston Red Sox conclude a four-game set against the Mariners on Thursday.
After going 4 for 5 with a homer, two doubles and three runs in an 11-8 victory Tuesday, Ortiz doubled in his first at-bat in the second inning Wednesday to break Harold Baines' record of 1,688 hits as a DH. The nine-time All-Star added a two-run homer the next inning as Boston (56-37) cruised to an 11-4 win.
"Wonderful hitters and when I first came up watching those guys," Ortiz said of Baines and former Mariners DH Edgar Martinez. "Now for your name to get mentioned next to theirs, it's a wonderful thing."
Hitting .459 with five homers and nine RBIs in his last 10 road games, Ortiz has batted .408 with four homers and nine RBIs in his past 13 contests versus Seattle (40-51).
"I've seen too much of him over the years," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He is about as professional a hitter as you can be. Still has the bat speed, still has the power, commands the strike zone as good as anybody in the game."
Faced with the task of slowing Ortiz down is Erasmo Ramirez, who is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to make his season debut. The 23-year-old right-hander takes the place of Jeremy Bonderman, who was designated for assignment earlier this week.
Ramirez went 1-2 with a 5.09 ERA in his last four minor league outings, but he compiled a 2.37 ERA in his final six major league starts last year. In his only appearance versus Boston, Ramirez retired the first eight batters he faced before leaving with an elbow injury last June 30.
Besides Ortiz, Ramirez will need to be cautious with Jacoby Ellsbury, who went 3 for 4 with an RBI and two runs in his first game back since missing two with a wrist injury. Ellsbury is batting .408 with 15 runs during an 18-game hitting streak, the longest active one in baseball.
The Red Sox give the ball to Ryan Dempster (5-8, 4.04 ERA), who has gone 3-3 with a 3.33 ERA in his last eight outings. The right-hander yielded three runs - two earned - in 6 1-3 innings and was in line for the win before Koji Uehara blew the save in a 9-7, 11-inning defeat to the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday.
"That's your job as a starting pitcher to try to be as consistent as you can," Dempster, seeking his eighth quality start in nine tries, told MLB's official website. "I've got one more start before the break, and try to finish strong before the break."
Dempster has gone 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in two career starts against the Mariners, both of which came in Seattle. He allowed two runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 3-2 win there Sept. 23 while with Texas.
Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan, who had homered once in his previous 106 home games, led off the bottom of the eighth with a home run after coming in as a defensive replacement Wednesday. Ryan is 7 for 18 with two homers and a double versus Dempster.