Papi passes Gehrig, McGriff with HR No. 494
Red Sox slugger moves into sole possession of 27th place on all-time list
NEW YORK -- David Ortiz is hardly just padding his numbers as he closes in on home run No. 500. At the age of 39, he continues to take tremendous cuts at the offerings of the best young pitchers in the game.
Take, for example, the top of the sixth inning of Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Mets at Citi Field, where the slugger clocked home run No. 494 to move past the legendary Lou Gehrig, as well as Fred McGriff, for sole possession of 27th place on the all-time list.
Mets righty Noah Syndergaard started Ortiz with four straight changeups to fall behind, 3-1. Ortiz then geared up his hands and turned on a 97-mph heater, putting it deep into the seats in right for a two-run shot.
"He threw me some good changeups," said Ortiz. "They were kind of low, but I was always looking for the fastball. For a guy that throws that hard, if anybody tells you I was sitting changeup there, I call [nonsense]."
Ortiz can still turn on a fastball with the best in the game.
"Yeah, he waited him out, laid off some really tough pitches at the bottom of the zone, [offspeed pitches]," said Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo. "It was like he set up Noah in that situation waiting for the fastball and he's not missing his pitch. There's no secret to how hot he is right now. He's getting the pitch that he wants to swing at and he's driving it well."
In August, Ortiz is hitting .341 with eight homers, 21 RBIs and a 1.114 OPS. His numbers in July were similar.
According to Statcast™, Big Papi's blast had an exit velocity of 109 mph, a projected distance of 391.29 feet and height of 58 feet, with a hang time of 4.39 seconds.
Though Syndergaard didn't enjoy giving up the prodigious homer, he got a kick out of Ortiz saying something complimentary to him.
The in-game meeting took place after Syndergaard hit an RBI single, and Ortiz was playing first base.
"He said something to me at first base, so that was really great," Syndergaard said. "So now, we're pretty much best friends."
"When he got to first base, he's got that hair," said Ortiz. "I was looking at it, like, 'This is a big kid right here.'"
Before Ortiz headed back to Boston, he reflected on the two hitters he passed on the all-time list. Hall of Famer Eddie Murray is next in his sights, at 504.
"I'm getting old, man," said Ortiz. "I heard about Lou Gehrig when I was a kid. Now, being part of the game, your name right next to historical people like that, it's great, it's an honor."
"That's my dog," Ortiz said. "I'm pretty sure he's going to holler at me at some point and say, 'Hey, what are you doing?' That was one of my favorite players, too."