Papi catches Gronk strike, hits Giant jack

July 20th, 2016

BOSTON -- Red Sox slugger figured out his old teammate quickly. In his second at-bat against on Tuesday night, on the fifth pitch he saw from Peavy, Big Papi hit his longest home run of the year. The three-run shot helped propel Boston to a 4-0 win over the Giants, putting the Sox within a half-game of first-place Baltimore.

"It's just those days when that wind is blowing in, whenever you hit a ball," Ortiz said. "Basically, when it's blowing in like it was today, it doesn't mess that up. But when it's a ball that's high like the one that I hit in my first at-bat, sometimes the wind plays with it. I put a good swing on that ball, too."

Per Statcast™, Ortiz's 23rd home run of the season and the 526th of his career went 442 feet, leaving the bat at 108.4 mph. He did it against Peavy, a member of the Red Sox's 2013 World Series championship team, with two runners on base and no outs in the fourth inning. Ortiz swung at the first pitch of the at-bat to crush a three-run homer to center, giving the Red Sox a 4-0 lead.

It was the slugger's fourth home run in his last five home games and continued a trend of first-pitch success. When swinging at the first pitch, Ortiz is batting .514 with three home runs in his final season.

"I was looking for something to hit, you know? It's just, you know, I'm not a guy that's always seeing that many pitches to hit, so I always go ready," Ortiz said.

Papi's fun began long before that crushed ball. To get the night started, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski took the mound at Fenway to throw the first pitch. And who better to catch than Ortiz? Big Papi sat on the receiving end of Gronk's near-perfect strike, accompanied by a goofy face from the hill.

Throughout the game, Fenway Park was flashing vintage clips of Peavy's two-year run with the Red Sox on the scoreboard in center field. Ortiz looked back on his time with the pitcher fondly.

"He's going to be remembered here in Boston," Ortiz said. "Great teammate, great personality. I always liked him going way back to when he was with San Diego. Very competitive, great personality out there, a guy that throws strikes and brings the best to the table."

Instead of his typically definitive answer about his impending retirement, Ortiz said the thought isn't crossing his mind right now. But he does want to leave as a winner.

"It's out of my hands. Just keep on winning," Ortiz said. "I can do all the thinking after the season is over. I have plenty of time. Not thinking about nothing now. My mind is just going through the flow. Just want to keep on winning, keep on providing things to win ballgames. That's all that matters right now to me."