Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays game preview
Amid a sizzling offensive stretch, David Ortiz has been able to enjoy another milestone with the Boston Red Sox.
He’s also been quite productive against Tampa Bay’s Drew Smyly during his career.
Less than 24 hours after recording his 500th homer, Ortiz looks to stay hot and continue his success against Smyly in Sunday’s finale against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
With two home runs in Saturday’s 10-4 victory, Big Papi became the 27th player in major league history to reach 500 and joined Jimmie Foxx (1940), Ted Williams (1960) and Manny Ramirez (2008) in hitting the mark in a Red Sox uniform.
"What can I tell you? It’s a number where it’s very hard to get and I’ve been competing and trying to get things done the right way through the years," said Ortiz, who also joined Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols as the only active players with at least 500.
Batting .413 with eight homers and 19 RBIs in the last 14 games, Ortiz has shined while Boston (67-74) has won nine times during that stretch.
He’s 5 for 10 with a double and a home run during the regular season against Smyly (2-2, 3.59 ERA), who is 1-1 with a 2.04 ERA in his last three starts against the Red Sox.
Prior to his second disabled-list stint of the season with a shoulder problem, the left-hander allowed a homer to Mookie Betts and one other hit while striking out six in six innings of a 2-0 loss at Fenway Park on May 5.
Smyly, however, needs to rebound after he gave up a pair of two-run homers in five innings while not factoring into the decision of a 5-4 loss at Detroit on Monday.
"I basically threw two bad pitches in five innings," Smyly said.
Tampa Bay (69-72) allowed four runs while winning its previous two contests before the Red Sox went deep five times to even the three-game set.
"They just came out and beat us," Rays manager Kevin Cash told MLB’s official website. "There weren’t a ton of positives."
In the midst of a 17-game hitting streak, Betts is batting .360 with five homers and 21 RBIs in his last 26 games.
Released by Washington on June 24 and signed to a minor league deal by Boston on Aug. 10, Rich Hill will make his first start in seven years Sunday. Hill, who last appeared in a major league game Sept. 23 with the New York Yankees, made his most recent big-league start for Baltimore on July 27, 2009.
The left-hander made 25 relief appearances at Triple-A Syracuse this season, then went 3-2 with a 2.78 ERA as a starter with Boston affiliate Pawtucket.
"When I was in the bullpen and had a pretty good gig, I thought that would be it and I’d stay and I’d continue on being successful as a reliever," said Hill, who pitched for the Red Sox from 2010-12. "I didn’t really see getting back into starting and didn’t really know if I would be able to handle the workload of starting."
He’s made nine appearances without a start against the Rays.
With a two-run homer Saturday, John Jaso is 6 for 10 with four RBIs against the Red Sox in 2015.