Did You Know – Red Sox Opening Day Home Runs

Hitting a round tripper on Opening Day, like hitting one in the World Series or an All-Star Game, is not an unusual feat, but doing it more than once is noteworthy in some respects.

Hitting a round tripper on Opening Day, like hitting one in the World Series or an All-Star Game, is not considered unusual, but doing it more than once is noteworthy in some respects. In the ninth inning of Tuesday afternoon’s 6-2 win for Boston over Cleveland, Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz hit what proved to be his fifth career home run on Opening Day, his third with the Red Sox after hitting two with the Minnesota Twins earlier in his career. After what was a quiet spring (4-for-35 with three extra base hits), the sight of him launching one into the bleachers was a welcome sight to Red Sox fans looking for a positive start to the 2016 season.

The home run also proved to be number 504 in Big Papi’s career, which ties him with Eddie Murray for 26th all-time in MLB history. After Murray, his next target on the all-time list would be Gary Sheffield (509), followed by Mel Ott (511), Ernie Banks (512) and Eddie Matthews (also 512). He now also has 446 home runs with the Red Sox, which puts him six behind Carl Yastrzemski for second place (452) and well behind Ted Williams with 521, whom he has a chance to catch only in the career total category.

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Will David Ortiz Hit Career Home Run Number 500 in 2015?

Just nine shy of 500 career home runs with 48 games left to play, David Ortiz has an opportunity to become the 27th player in Major League Baseball history to reach that mark before the season ends. So how likely will that happen?

Just nine shy of 500 career home runs with 48 games left to play, David Ortiz has an opportunity to become the 27th player in Major League Baseball history to reach that mark before the season ends. With little to play for other than pride, this may be the only thing left for the Red Sox to champion in 2015. Having reached the required number of plate appearances this season to guarantee his return in a Boston uniform in 2016, chances are excellent that number 500 will come with the Red Sox. So how likely will it happen this year?

In franchise history, only one player, Ted Williams, has hit at least 500 home runs in a Boston uniform. Jimmie Foxx and Manny Ramirez are the only other two players to hit number 500 with the club. “Big Papi” has 433 home runs with the Red Sox, second most in team history; he hit his other 58 with the Twins over his first six seasons in baseball. Whether he can hit another 67 home runs with the Red Sox, thereby finishing with 500  in a Boston uniform, is another story for another day.

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Today In History – Switch-Hitting Smith Helps BoSox Sweep

20 August 1967 – On this day forty years ago, Red Sox outfielder Reggie Smith hits three home runs in two games at Fenway Park as Boston not only sweeps a doubleheader against California, 12-2 and 9-8, but completes a four-game series sweep against the Angels. The four wins also avenges a sweep at the hands of the Angels in Anaheim one week earlier and moves the surging Red Sox to within 1-1/2 games of first place in the American League, but comes at a price; Tony Conigliaro is beaned by a Jack Hamilton pitch in the first game of the series and the young outfielder will miss not only the rest of the season but the entire 1968 campaign as well.

In the first game, Smith becomes the first player in franchise history to hit home runs from both sides of the plate in a single game; his first, a three-run shot, comes in the first inning off left-handed starting pitcher George Brunet and the second, a two-run blast, comes in the sixth off right-hander Pete Cimino. Rico Petrocelli and Carl Yastrzemski also homer as Boston scores five runs in the first and six runs in the sixth to make it a laugher.

In the nightcap, the Angels take a commanding 8-0 lead before Smith hits his third home run of the day, a solo shot off Angels starter Jim McGlothlin, with one out in the fourth inning. The Red Sox then score three in the fifth on Yastrzemski’s second home run of the day and four in the sixth to tie the score at eight runs apiece; third baseman Jerry Adair then completes the scoring with a solo home run into the netting above the Green Monster. In the ninth inning, the Angels attempt to salvage at least one game in the series thanks to a single and a double to open the frame that put runners on second and third. However, reliever Jose Santiago manages to pitch out of the jam by inducing a groundout to second base, a strikeout, and a international walk followed by a groundout into a force at second.

Did You Know? – Jack Wilson

Former Red Sox pitcher Jack Wilson may not be a name familiar even to die-hard Fenway fanatics and his career hardly made a blip on the radar as a professional ballplayer. In nine big-league seasons, seven with the Red Sox between 1935 and 1941, the University of Portland, Oregon product was 68-72 with a 4.59 ERA and 590 strikeouts. His best season, arguably, came in 1937 when he went 16-10 with an ERA of 3.70 in 51 appearances, splitting time between the starting rotation and the bullpen as he also saved seven games at a time when this was not a recognized statistic.

He may be better remembered, however, for what he did with his bat rather than with his arm. In September of 1935, Boston trailed Washington 7-0 in the first game of a Labor Day doubleheader at Fenway Park before the team rallied to tie the score at 8-8 after eight innings. Wilson then capped the comeback with a game-winning solo home run to dead center field, his first-ever major league home run, as the home team won by a final of 9-8 in 11 innings. Nearly five years later, pitching in the second game of a June 1940 doubleheader at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Wilson helped his own cause with two home runs as the visitors collected five home runs and 20 total hits en route to a 14-5 rout of the White Sox. These would be the only three home runs out of 15 extra-base hits that Wilson, a .199 hitter, would manage in 413 career at-bats.

Did You Know? – Babe Ruth’s Missing Home Run

Through Sunday, San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds has amassed 753 home runs in his career, two round trips shy of Henry “Hank” Aaron’s record for most home runs by a Major League Baseball player (former Japanese Central League baseball player Sadaharu Oh holds the professional baseball record, having hit 868 home runs for the Yomiuri Giants). Last year, on 28 May 2006, Bonds passed former Red Sox and Yankees baseball great Babe Ruth for second-place all-time, notching home run number 715 in the sixth inning off former Red Sox pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim of Colorado in San Francisco as the Giants lost 6-3 to the Rockies.

Then again, had one of modern baseball’s rules been observed early in Ruth’s career, it might have been necessary for Bonds to hit one more home run to pass the legendary ballplayer. On 08 July 1918, with the score tied in the tenth inning at Fenway Park, Ruth ended the game for the Red Sox with a walk-off hit over the outfield fence. Unfortunately, prior to 1931, as soon as the first run necessary to win the game scored, the ball was ruled dead, and the batter was credited only with the number of bases needed to drive in the winning run. In this instance, Red Sox center field Amos Strunk had already reached first base earlier in the inning when Ruth stepped up to the plate; after his hit left the yard, the umpires awarded an RBI triple to Ruth as Strunk crossed home plate one base ahead of “The Bambino” with the deciding run. This was the only instance in The Babe’s career in which this happened, and several other players from that period also lost home runs in this fashion.

In 1931, in part due to the frequency and popularity of Ruth’s home runs, the rule was changed to allow the entire play to be completed, with the ball ruled dead and all runners given the opportunity to move freely around the bases, which in turn allowed for the batter to be credited with a home run and all runs batted in, depending on the number of players on base. To put in perspective today, if the original rule still applied today, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz would have had three game-winning home runs for Boston since 2004 and his two game-winners from the 2004 post-season also changed to triples. As an added note, baseball historians did make an attempt in the 1960s to have the records of those who played prior to 1931 updated to reflect this rule change, but Major League Baseball decided to leave them as they still stand today.

Red Sox Go Back-To-Back-To-Back-To-Back

With two outs in the third inning of tonight’s game versus the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox stroked four consecutive home runs for the first time in franchise history. Manny Ramirez started the fireworks with a shot over the Green Monster at Fenway Park, his second of the season, and J.D. Drew followed with his second round-tripper to the right-field bleachers. Mike Lowell then socked his second of the year, again over the Green Monster, and Jason Varitek completed the feat with a shot into the Monster Seats, his second of the season and of the series with Boston’s American League East rival. All four home runs came off of Yankees rookie pitcher Chase Wright and turned a 3-0 New York advantage into a 4-3 Boston lead.

From the MLB.com release :

The Red Sox became the fifth team in Major League history to hit four home runs in a row. The [Los Angeles] Dodgers did it last September 18th in a key pennant-race game against the Padres to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium. Drew, with the Dodgers last year, was also involved in that quartet…. It marked the 10th time in Red Sox history that they’ve hit four home runs in one inning, tying a club record.