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Papi's blast lowers Sox's magic number

September 20, 2016

BALTIMORE -- David Ortiz is making his last series in Baltimore something special.Ortiz, who addressed the media about his final visit to Camden Yards prior to Tuesday's game, homered for the second time in as many games to propel the first-place Red Sox to a 5-2 victory over the Orioles.Ortiz's

BALTIMORE -- David Ortiz is making his last series in Baltimore something special.
Ortiz, who addressed the media about his final visit to Camden Yards prior to Tuesday's game, homered for the second time in as many games to propel the first-place Red Sox to a 5-2 victory over the Orioles.
Ortiz's three-run homer, which ended starter Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman's night in the seventh inning, was his 36th of the year and gives him 121 RBIs. The Sox lead the second-place Blue Jays by four games in the American League East while the third-place O's are five games back. Baltimore, which has now lost four of its last six games, holds a 1 1/2-game lead over the Tigers for the second AL Wild Card. Boston's magic number to win the division is down to eight.
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"I think there's growing confidence in our clubhouse daily," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "We've responded to a number of challenges, whether it's on the road, whether it's coming from behind in big ballgames in the division, those are key. When you achieve those or succeed in those, yeah, that's a snowball effect that takes place. To balance that out, no one is taking anything for granted."
Leading that tunnel-vision approach is Ortiz, who again came through with a game-breaking home run.
"He's a tough hitter, so I was trying to switch things up, go down and away. Was kind of going at him with fastballs in and fastballs up," Gausman said of Ortiz. "The second at-bat, I was trying to throw him a lot of splitters. I was trying to throw that pitch off the plate, and hoping he'd kind of go after it, but obviously he's the hitter he is because he can do that with pitches like that."
Gausman, who posted a 0.82 ERA in his previous five starts, was charged with five runs on 10 hits and a walk over 6 1/3 innings. The Orioles' first run came from Trey Mancini, who homered off Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez in his Major League debut. Mancini delivered a solo blast in the fifth inning.
Rodriguez turned in a strong performance for the win -- his first since July 16 -- allowing four hits and a run while striking out seven over 6 1/3 innings.
"When you are capable to stop the Baltimore offense, that means you've got good stuff," Ortiz said of Rodriguez. "Those guys can swing the bat. We know what we've got in [Rodriguez]."
Ortiz makes more history: When Ortiz's drive to center cleared the wall, it put the slugger in the record books. The 36 homers are the most by a player in his final season, surpassing Dave Kingman, who belted 35 in 1986. With 121 RBIs, the 40-year-old Ortiz is now two away from tying Shoeless Joe Jackson (1920) for most in that category in a final season. Ortiz's rocket had a Statcast-projected distance of 408 feet and an exit velocity of 105 mph. One at-bat prior to the homer, Ortiz ripped one to deep right and thought it was going out of the park. On his way back to the dugout, he motioned to a fan that he just missed.

"Forty is the new 20," Ortiz quipped after the game. More >
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Mancini's big debut: Promoted on Sunday, Mancini was put in the starting lineup to change things up a little bit. And the Orioles' No. 5 prospect didn't wait long to make his presence known, connecting on Rodriguez's 1-1 pitch to become the first Oriole to homer for his first Major League hit since Nick Markakis did it in 2006.

"It was a really special moment, something that I've definitely been waiting for my whole life. It was especially cool for my family," Mancini said. "I didn't say this before the game, but my grandfather was a 20-year season-ticket holder here for the Orioles and today would've been his 79th birthday. He passed away four years ago, so I just find that out the other day that today would've been his birthday. That's a big reason why it was so special and part of the reason why my mom so pumped out there too." More >
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Betts joins 200-hit club: For a change, Mookie Betts didn't go deep in a game played at Camden Yards. But he did belt out three hits and has 201 for the season. Betts became the first Red Sox player since Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrián González in 2011 to reach 200 hits in a season. Betts is just the seventh player in history with at least 200 hits, 30 homers, 40 doubles and 20 stolen bases in the same season.

"You don't see too many guys around the league achieve that or accomplish that inside of a year," said Farrell. "When you look at the power, the average, the total number of hits, he's a five-tool player that is playing to those skills." More >
Gausman can't repeat the feat: The O's righty, who was superb last week against the Red Sox, allowed more runs on Tuesday than his previous six games combined. Gausman had scoreless outings in four of his last five games coming in.

"Paid for the one mistake to Ortiz, to their designated hitter, but other than that, kind of similar to Dylan [Bundy's] outing the other night. Close," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Betts threw in a couple there and he worked through some situations. They're pitching real well and we haven't swung the bats real well."
E-Rod dazzles again in Baltimore: A month ago, Rodriguez fired four no-hit innings at Camden Yards, only to have to leave his start in the fifth with a hamstring injury. This time, he opened with 4 2/3 no-hit innings en route to one of his best performances of the season. It was an important start for Rodriguez in his quest to be part of Boston's postseason rotation.

"I mean, I'm just pitching, you know what I mean? If they give me the chance, I'll take it," Rodriguez said. "I just pitch wherever they put me. This is not a fight for a spot. It's just trying to keep pitching normal and get the team in the postseason the best we can do."
"Gaus has pitched him well and felt like he could get him out. There's a decision there you can go back and [say], 'What if? What if? What if?' I understand it. Gaus presented himself well. Same reason why we stuck with him in that situation before. Both [Gausman and lefty Donnie Hart] can get him out and he just didn't get the ball where he needed to get it." -- Showalter, on leaving in Gausman to face Ortiz
The only other Red Sox player besides Betts to have 200 hits before turning 24 years old? Johnny Pesky in 1942.
Red Sox: Right-hander Clay Buchholz (7-10, 5.20 ERA) will try to build off his last start, when he held the Yankees to seven hits and two runs over six innings. Buchholz is 5-3 with a 5.10 ERA lifetime at Camden Yards. First pitch for Wednesday's game is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.
Orioles:Ubaldo Jiménez will try to continue building on his strong second half of the season. The veteran has a 3.51 ERA since the All-Star break after posting 7.38 ERA before the Midsummer Classic. In two starts vs. Boston, which came in the first half, he went 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA.
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Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.