Red Sox slugger Ortiz gets last shot at Yankees
NEW YORK -- David Ortiz began making his mark on the rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and New York with two long home runs at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 2003.
He has not stopped getting big hits against the Yankees since and is ending his career as a highly productive player on a playoff team.
"It's incredible," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You often wonder why he's retiring. I know a lot of athletes like to go out on top but gosh the year he's having, I would really have to think about coming back but I'm going to encourage him to retire."
On Thursday, Ortiz will take his last at-bats in the rivalry when the Red Sox conclude their series with the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
Ortiz announced his retirement before the season and the end of his 14-year tenure with the Red Sox has been marked by tributes in a similar manner to the final seasons of Yankee icons Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
Early in his time with the Red Sox, he struggled for playing time while splitting time with Jeremy Giambi and others. Until he hit those two home runs followed by two more in the next game, Ortiz had seven at-bats in the rivalry, but that weekend was part of a 5-for-16 showing and a few weeks later, he delivered his first game-winning hit in the rivalry.
Then came the 2004 season, when he had consecutive extra-inning game-ending hits in Games 4 and 5 of the ALCS as the Red Sox became the only team to rally from a three games to none deficit en route to their first World Series title since 1918.
Ortiz has 52 of his 53 career home runs vs. the Yankees with the Red Sox. He has the fourth-most home runs all time against the Yankees, tied for fourth all-time with Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg and only behind Manny Ramirez (55), and Hall of Famers Ted Williams (62) and Jimmie Foxx (70).
Of those home runs, 31 have been in two versions of Yankee Stadium. He is tied with Mickey Vernon for the second-most among visiting players to New York and gets one more chance to tie or surpass the mark set by Goose Goslin.
"There's always motivation when you come to play at Yankee Stadium," Ortiz said. "That's how it's been until today. As far as I know, when you're a villain, you're a villain. When you're a hero, you're a hero. Not too many guys get to be both."
The Red Sox will be taking the field as division champions for the third time in Ortiz's tenure. They also won in 2007 and 2013 and Wednesday clinched their eighth division title despite Joe Kelly giving up Mark Teixeira's two-out grand slam in the ninth inning of a 5-3 loss.
"It doesn't detract at all from what these guys accomplished over the last six months," Red Sox owner John Henry said. "The baseball season is an endurance test, so it takes six months to determine a champion. That championship was determined before this game ended."
Teixeira's dramatic home run kept the Yankees mathematically alive for at least one more day. Although New York has won six of its last 17 games, it remains four games behind Baltimore in the wild-card race.
Henry Owens, who was 10 years old when Ortiz joined Boston, makes the start in place of Drew Pomeranz. Owens made his major league debut at Yankee Stadium last August and has a 5.27 ERA in 15 starts.
The 24-year-old left-hander has not pitched since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket where he was 10-7 with a 3.53 ERA in 24 starts. Earlier this season, Owens was 0-1 with a 7.79 ERA in four starts for the Red Sox.
The last Yankees starting pitcher to face Ortiz will be CC Sabathia, who is 8-12 with a 4.02 ERA.
Ortiz is 18-for-70 (.257) with two home runs and six RBIs to go along with 16 strikeouts against Sabathia as a Red Sox and 18-for-76 (.237) with two home runs and seven RBIs overall in their matchups.
Sabathia is 12-13 with a 4.59 ERA in 34 career starts against the Red Sox and with the Yankees, he is 10-9 with a 4.79 ERA in 27 starts. He last opposed the Red Sox Sept. 18 in Boston when he allowed four runs and eight hits in a no-decision.
The left-hander's last outing was Saturday in Toronto when he allowed four hits in seven shutout innings of a 3-0 loss. It was his 45th career start of at least seven shutout innings and fifth scoreless outing this season.