Red Sox 6, Twins 0
BOSTON (AP)—David Ortiz’s fans cheered him and his teammates hugged him. Even the ace pitcher who gave up the slugger’s record-breaking homer was happy for him.
Boston’s designated hitter homered against Johan Santana in the first inning to pass Jimmie Foxx’s team record of 50 set in 1938 and added his 52nd drive in the seventh to help the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 6-0 Thursday night.
Santana picked up his first loss since the All-Star break and the Twins stayed a half-game behind AL Central-leading Detroit, which lost to Baltimore 4-3 earlier Thursday.
Ortiz’s first-inning homer far over the Red Sox bullpen in right-center field provided a memorable moment in a forgettable season. Boston is 8 1/2 games back of the Twins for the wild card. The lefty slugger added an even longer shot into the center-field bleachers in the seventh.
“Great feeling, especially doing it here at home in front of my fans,” Ortiz said.
The loss ended the Twins’ three-hour stay in first place in the division and Santana’s unbeaten record since the break.
“I’m very proud of all he’s accomplished in his career. It’s unbelievable,” said Santana (18-6), who came up in the Twins’ system with Ortiz. “The only way I wasn’t going to give up a home run to him was not to throw the ball.”
On a rare off night, Santana was outpitched by Josh Beckett (16-10), who allowed six hits, struck out five in eight innings and passed the career high in wins he set last year. He walked none and allowed just one runner past second base but was overshadowed by Ortiz.
“It gave me chills after he hit 51 and then 52,” Beckett said. “You really want to win a game, especially when somebody accomplishes such a feat.”
Minnesota entered the game with a .001 lead in the division over the Tigers. It was the first time the Twins had led the division this season after the Tigers were alone in the top spot since May 20. The Twins still lead the wild-card race by 5 1/2 games over the White Sox, who lost to Seattle 9-0.
“We’re concerned now about winning games and not about first place,” Justin Morneau said. “If we continue to win, we’ll get into the playoffs and that’s what we’re after.”
With Santana pitching, Minnesota had an excellent chance to boost its brief division lead. He was 9-0 since the All-Star break this season and had a 31-2 record after the break over the last three seasons. But he threw 100 pitches in five innings, matching his shortest stint of the year, and the Twins lost for just the third time in 13 games.
“Johan had a hard time locating his pitches,” catcher Joe Mauer said.
The Red Sox avoided elimination from the wild-card race. They were eliminated from the AL East race Wednesday when their 8-2 loss to the Twins clinched the division for the New York Yankees.
The record-breaking homer came on the first pitch Ortiz saw from Santana, who tried to leave it outside but it tailed back in.
“Johan has the best stuff in the league,” Ortiz said. “You might get one pitch to hit and then everything you see afterwards is nasty. So I was very prepared walking from the on-deck to the plate and that was the pitch I was going to see and I tried not to miss it.”
His next homer came off Matt Guerrier. He broke his own record of homers by a DH of 43 set last year and now has 45. His 52 homers moved him into a tie for 12th in AL history.
With nine games left, he has an outside shot at Roger Maris’ AL record of 61, a mark that might have been easier to reach had he not missed eight games recently with heart palpitations.
“There’s a lot of possibilities,” Ortiz said. “When that happened to me I was swinging the bat pretty good.”
When he returned to the dugout after giving Boston a 1-0 lead, he was hugged by teammates who swarmed around him. But when he got back there after his second homer, they gave him the silent treatment for a few seconds, then smiled and laughed as they surrounded him. After both homers, he left the dugout to salute the applauding fans.
Ortiz hit his 50th homer Wednesday night, a solo shot off Boof Bonser.
The Red Sox went ahead 4-0 in the second with a big boost from Santana’s pitching and fielding.
Singles by Carlos Pena and Gabe Kapler put runners at first and second. Alex Gonzalez then attempted a sacrifice bunt. Santana fielded it, dropped it, then threw wildly past first base. Pena and Kapler scored and Gonzalez reached third. Mark Loretta’s sacrifice fly scored Gonzalez.
Guerrier replaced Santana and retired the first four batters he faced. But with one out in the seventh, Ortiz hit the ball over the center-field wall on a full count. Mike Lowell then hit the next pitch over the left-field fence for his 18th homer and a 6-0 lead.
Beckett got 11 straight outs starting with a double-play grounder by Joe Mauer with runners at first and second in the third. He struck out the side in the sixth. … Jason Bartlett was the only Twin with more than one hit. He had two singles, one that didn’t leave the infield. … Ortiz increased his AL-leading totals to 52 homers and 132 RBIs. … Beckett threw 103 pitches, 69 for strikes.