David Ortiz’s numbers may not be at the level they were last year, but the Boston slugger is trying not to let that or a nagging injury slow him down in the second half.
Ortiz and the Red Sox (54-34) try to match their longest home winning streak of the season when they continue a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays (43-45) on Friday.
Ortiz revealed Thursday that he’s been playing with a torn meniscus in his right knee since the middle of the 2006 season. Boston’s designated hitter said he hurt his knee during batting practice at Yankee Stadium last summer, probably during the June 6-8 series.
He hasn’t needed surgery because the knee is free of inflammation.
“It wasn’t anything major,” Ortiz said. “I just kept playing through it last year. This year, it’s been bothering me more than it used to.”
That may be why the All-Star has just 14 homers and 54 RBIs this season - well off his pace of 2006, when he finished with 54 home runs and 137 RBIs. He looked like his old self Thursday, though, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs to help the Red Sox beat Toronto 7-4 and snap a three-game losing streak.
Ortiz is 8-for-14 with a homer, three doubles and seven RBIs in his last three games against the Blue Jays. Manny Ramirez, whose numbers have also declined this season, went 2-for-4 with three RBIs on Thursday.
“Manny and Ortiz are just good hitters,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “They’ll have big second halves.”
The Red Sox have outscored opponents 40-17 and batted .345 during five straight home wins. On Friday, they’ll try to equal their longest win streak of the season at Fenway Park, set April 13-22.
Boston is 29-14 at home, while Toronto is 17-26 on the road with losses in six of its last eight games away from Rogers Centre.
Blue Jays All-Star Alex Rios went 3-for-4 with a single, double and homer Thursday to extend his hitting streak to seven games. He’s batting .462 (12-for-26) during that stretch.
Rios is 8-for-12 with a homer, triple and double against Julian Tavarez (5-7, 4.97 ERA), who will take the mound for Boston on Friday. The right-hander went 4-0 with a 3.07 ERA in seven starts from May 17-June 20, but is 0-3 with a 7.36 ERA in his last three starts.
Tavarez gave up a season-high eight runs and 10 hits, including two homers, over 4 2-3 innings in a 9-2 defeat to Detroit on July 6. The 34-year-old veteran is 2-3 with a 4.57 ERA in 21 games - five starts - against the Blue Jays.
Toronto will hand the ball to Shaun Marcum (4-3, 3.62), who will be trying to bounce back from his worst start of the season. The right-hander gave up eight runs and nine hits, both season highs, over 3 1-3 innings of a 9-4 loss to Cleveland on Saturday. He allowed a career-high three homers in his shortest start of 2007.
“It’s tough to go out there every single day and do your job,” said Marcum, who lost for the first time since joining the rotation May 13. “I guess all things come to an end at some point.”
Despite the defeat, Marcum is 3-1 with a 3.02 ERA in 11 starts. The Blue Jays haven’t given him much support, scoring one or no runs in seven of those 11 outings.
Marcum is 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA in six games, including one start, against the Red Sox.
Boston has won four straight meetings with Toronto and six of nine this season.