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Closing Time: David Ortiz hits 2-run homer in 7th inning to snap tie, give Red Sox win over Blue Jays 09.30.16 at 11:00 pm ET
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David Ortiz's two-run homer in the seventh inning proved to be the game-winner in the Red Sox' win over the Jays (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz’s two-run homer in the seventh inning proved to be the game-winner in the Red Sox’ win over the Jays (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

You couldn’t have scripted it any better.

In the first game of the final series of the regular season dedicated to honoring David Ortiz in his final season, he hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning to snap a 3-3 tie and give the Red Sox a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays snapping a four-game losing streak in the process.

With the win, the Red Sox remain half a game ahead of the Indians for the No. 2 seed in the American League and hold the tiebreaker as well.

For Ortiz, it marked the 39th time he’s hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later with 36 of them coming with the Red Sox.

“On a night that begins a weekend celebration, I don’t think you could write a script any better for what David did here tonight offensively,” manager John Farrell said. “A long at-bat in the first inning and takes a pitch on the outside of the plate from [Marco] Estrada for a RBI single. And then in a 2-1 count against Cecil, who had some decent success against him, turned this place upside down given the time of the game, what was needed. Almost a storybook night for David Ortiz.”

Trailing 3-1 in the seventh, the Red Sox scored four times to take the lead. Andrew Benintendi led the inning off with a double and then scored on a Dustin Pedroia tapper in front of the plate as Russell Martin’s throw got past first baseman Justin Smoak and stuck in the tarp.

After a Brock Holt ground out, Mookie Betts tied the game with a RBI single up the middle. The Blue Jays then brought in left-hander Brett Cecil to face Ortiz and he made them pay.

“Focus man,” Ortiz said. “Just want to go out there and do something when I step up to the plate. Be patient and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Toronto threatened against Koji Uehara in the eighth with runners on second and third with one out, but he was able to get out of it, retiring Josh Donaldson for the final out of the frame. After his tough outing in New York Wednesday night, it wasn’t the smoothest of ninth innings after walking two, but he got the save.

With his scoreless seventh inning, Brad Ziegler picked up the win.

The Red Sox led 1-0 until the fifth inning and things unraveled a bit for starter Rick Porcello. It started with a Devon Travis double off the Monster then an infield single and a Donaldson sacrifice fly to tie the game at one. Porcello was one out from getting out of the inning, but Jose Bautista crushed a two-run home run over the Monster into a stiff wind and mist.

Porcello wasn’t at his best as he went six innings and allowed three runs on eight hits, while walking two and striking out six. For anyone else this would be considered a decent start, but the right-hander came into the game with a 13-1 record at Fenway Park this year and a 2.88 ERA.

“I thought he’s been throwing the ball as he’s been so many times out for us,” Farrell said.

Ortiz also got the Red Sox on the board with a two-out RBI single to left field in the first inning.

Closing Time note

By going 3-for-5, Pedroia now has 201 hits on the season. It is his second career 200-hit season, the other being his MVP year in 2008.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:

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What is David Ortiz’s favorite Fenway Park at-bat of all-time? 09.30.16 at 6:42 pm ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

David Ortiz has had a lot of at-bats at Fenway Park over the years — 3,654 in the regular season going into the weekend to be exact.

Before Friday’s game, Ortiz was asked what his favorite was and it wasn’t even one of the 3,654, as it came in the postseason.

“I have a lot of good at-bats here at Fenway, I’m not going to lie to you,” Ortiz said with a smile. “But I definitely got to go back to 2004, man, those walk-offs. That put us back on track. We used the opportunity to go back to New York and finish them off over there and win that World Series that everybody was expecting for the past 86 years at the time.”

The game-winning home run in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS off Paul Quantrill was brought up and Ortiz said that was one of the ones he will never forget.

“I always look at that at-bat like it was yesterday,” Ortiz said. “When I saw Quantrill coming in, I’m like, he’s coming with a front-door sinker. He threw it to me, and I was ready. Your mindset — when it comes down to his game, you can’t just play this game with an empty mind. I feel, as a player, whatever you do on the field, when you do it not thinking about it, the only advantage we have as a player is those two seconds to think about things before they happen. After that, you’re on your own. If your mind is not in it, whoever is watching from the outside, you can tell. Me, I can tell most of the time when a player wasn’t ready for whatever happened.

“But you also can tell when the players was ready, too. You can’t play the game thinking about something else. You’ve got to be 100 percent in it, otherwise you’re not going to see the results, and I have been able to keep up with it.”

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David Ortiz discusses Hall of Fame chances: ‘I’m super proud of what I have done’ 09.30.16 at 6:24 pm ET
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David Ortiz said he hasn't given his Hall of Fame chances much thought. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz said more Dominican Republic players will get into the Hall of Fame in coming years. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

Although his career isn’t completely over, it’s getting time to start seriously thinking about David Ortiz’s chances of making the Hall of Fame.

As it stands now, there is one designated hitter — Frank Thomas — and two players from Dominican Republic — Pedro Martinez and Juan Marichal — in Cooperstown, but Ortiz acknowledges that soon will be changing, especially when it comes to Dominican Republic players.

“We’ve got plenty coming. We’ve got plenty,” Ortiz said. “We’ve got Adrian Beltre. I think that guy should be in the Hall of Fame once he’s done with his career. We’ve got Albert Pujols. If he retired tomorrow, he’d be in the Hall of Fame. We’ve got Vladi [Vladimir Guerrero]. He’s going to be in the voting next year, ’17. That guy has Hall of Fame numbers. We’ve got a lot of guys coming. Things are going to change with time. We have been able to progress when it comes down to that, no question about that. The Dominican Republic is developing so many great talents. It has become a masterpiece when it comes down to what we do right here.

“I’m very excited about it. I am one of the guys that, I look up to those guys. We always had conversations. We have a great relationship. I think we are in pretty good shape to have a few more Dominicans at some point, probably 5-10 years from now, 15 years from now, in the Hall of Fame. In my case, I always tell you guys, all I can do is keep on doing what I’m doing on the field right now.

“When it comes down to voting five years from now, I’ll probably start thinking about it a little more, sitting at home, not worrying about all those things I’m thinking about right now. All I want to do is just what I’ve been doing throughout my career, send the right message to everybody and try to do the right thing. It’s going to be up to them.”

Ortiz did admit he’s proud of his career, as he will enter the weekend with a career average of .286 with 540 home runs and 1,765 RBIs over his 20 seasons. He also noted his career story, as he came from seemingly no where.

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David Ortiz admits pregame ceremonies have been distracting, looking forward to postseason 09.30.16 at 6:03 pm ET
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David Ortiz has appreciated all the pregame ceremonies this year. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz has appreciated all the pregame ceremonies this year. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

While all the pregame ceremonies to honor David Ortiz for his final season have been nice tributes, the Red Sox’ designated hitter admitted they have been a bit distracting at times, especially in his first at-bats of games which have come mere minutes after the ceremonies.

“It has, I’m not going to lie to you,” Ortiz said. “The good thing is that we’re already in the playoffs so for the next three days I don’t really have to worry about it. The best thing about it is that once we go into the playoffs there’s not going to be all these distractions. I like to be focused when I play, especially when I play for a reason. We worked extremely hard in the regular season to get to the playoffs and I don’t want to blow that off.

“It’s not easy going through all these things and playing baseball at the same time. It can cause distraction … I am going to try to enjoy these next three days and be ready to play in the playoffs.”

Ortiz said he’s been so busy to even think about this being his last season, but admitted he never expected things to go like they have with seemingly every away team honoring him this year.

“I was telling Junior in Spanish, he asked me how I feel about everything that has been happening. Everything happened so fast, and I’m like in it, so I haven’t really had the time to drop knowledge on things,” he said. “I never expected everything to be this way. We play during the season, we get involved in everything we’ve got to do. I don’t expect anything ever, but everything is so beautiful, what has been going on.”

Added Ortiz: “Looking forward to the regular season being over with. I know we’re going to have three busy days. It is what it is. Just trying to get prepared for the playoffs and be part of what we’re trying to do during the regular season. I really appreciate all those in the organization taking their time to honor me and make me feel good about what my career has been.

“I think it was super nice what the Yankees did last night, very professional. After this weekend, we’re just going to get prepared for the playoffs.”

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Red Sox lineup: Xander Bogaerts batting 6th, David Ortiz 4th in series opener vs. Blue Jays 09.30.16 at 3:50 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts

With Xander Bogaerts hitting just .235 in September, manager John Farrell has moved him down in the order. Bogaerts is batting sixth in the series opener against the Blue Jays on Friday night.

Third baseman Brock Holt, who has been hitting well of late, will bat second as the Red Sox go up against right-hander Marco Estrada. Also, Mookie Betts and David Ortiz have switched, so Ortiz will bat fourth and Betts third.

Sandy Leon will catch Red Sox starter Rick Porcello, who is making his final start of the year before the postseason.

Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:

Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Brock Holt, 3B
Mookie Betts, RF
David Ortiz, DH
Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Sandy Leon, C
Andrew Benintendi, LF
Rick Porcello, RHP

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

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Curt Schilling on K&C: Red Sox-Indians could be an ‘enormous mismatch’ 09.29.16 at 10:05 am ET
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Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling

Making his weekly appearance on Kirk & Callahan on Thursday morning, Curt Schilling said he believes the Red Sox matchup well against their likely opponent in the ALDS in the Indians. To hear the interview, go to the Kirk & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Red Sox in all likelihood will be the No. 2 seed in the American League and have homefield advantage against the Indians in the ALDS. Schilling believes given the Indians’ question marks with their rotation, the Red Sox will have an “enormous mismatch.”

“I think right now that is a potentially enormous mismatch,” Schilling said. “Given the amount of injuries Cleveland has suffered. You’re looking at [Zach] McAllister then [Josh] Tomlin. If you don’t have a pitcher on the mound who can make a hitter swing and miss, the Red Sox I think are going to bury you. I don’t think this is an offense — you cannot be a contact guy. This is very much like ’04 from the standpoint of offensively. That is why Cleveland initially was going to be a tough matchup because of the amount of the power arms at the top of the rotation with [Danny] Salazar and some of the other guys. Tomlin has had a good year, but look at the numbers. If you’re going to put a guy on the mound that relies on contact to beat you, I think the Red Sox are going to destroy any staff that does that.”

Schilling is already starting to look ahead to a potential Red Sox-Cubs World Series, but notes just how good the Cubs’ pitching is.

“If you look at the numbers, it’s a no-brainer: it’s the Cubs and the Red Sox,” Schilling said. “Both of them can mash like no one else in the playoffs. Offensively they are both the best in the league, but the similarities end there. You look at what the Cubs are going to run out there — [Jon] Lester, [Kyle] Hendricks, [Jake] Arrieta and [John] Lackey. I was looking across the American League. Is there a team in the American League you don’t want to see?”

One of the question marks for the Red Sox is how will some of their players perform in the postseason given their history, like David Price who has never won a playoff game as a starter. Schilling said he never looked at the postseason as having extra pressure like some players do now.

“I don’t know what the pressure thing is,” he said. “What I remember about October was right after Sunday’s game, it’s like the All-Star break. The clock resets and it’s kind of like a gigantic kind of exhale moment where OK, now it gets fun. Now it gets exciting. I never looked at that as pressure. I mean, I’ll tell you this, the first two rounds of the postseason are like a million tons of pressure compared to the World Series. The World Series is always fun, I thought. The playoffs, until you get there, it’s pressure.”

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David Ortiz on D&H remembers Jose Fernandez: ‘That hit home for me big time’ 09.26.16 at 5:45 pm ET
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Sunday was a tragic day in the world of baseball as Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident early Sunday morning in Miami. Before the Rays-Red Sox game there was a tribute to Fernandez on the video board where Ortiz was seen getting emotional.

On Monday, appearing on Dale & Holley, Ortiz offered how he will remember Fernandez and also explained how difficult Sunday was for him.

“That hit home for me big time,” Ortiz said. “I knew Jose a little bit. Great kid. Unbelievable person. Face of the game, definitely. He had so many years in front of him to do things — special things. Then this tragedy happened. All I could think about yesterday was him and his family. He’s got a baby on the way. His mom, his grandmother. The story behind being from Cuba. Yesterday during the game I couldn’t stop think about that. It’s something that we’re all feeling, especially when a good guy goes down like that. I come back to his family and all his friends around the world, Major League Baseball. I was super sad.

“I started thinking about it and I remember during the All-Star game he came up to me and was like ‘Hey, Papi.’ He was a very happy guy. ‘I’m going to have one jersey at my house and it’s yours. Your my favorite player.’ We started talking: ‘Hey, if I face you in this game, I am going to throw you my best fastball. Let’s see if you can hit it.’ We joked about it and talked about things. Very happy. Very humble kid. Sweet guy. In Miami, I talked to my fiends down there and everyone down in Miami is in absolute shock with his situation. It was hard, man. You know how they had the ceremony for me for the retirement, they asked me and I was like, ‘Man, it’s all about Jose today.’

“… It wasn’t a good day. It wasn’t a good day. By the time we were having the ceremony for Jose and when they were showing the stuff about him on the screen, I couldn’t help it. It was so sad. It was something — man, it hit me.”

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David Ortiz on D&H praises John Farrell, talks potentially winning MVP award in final season 09.26.16 at 4:38 pm ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz appeared on the Dale & Holley with Thornton show Monday to talk about a number of things including John Farrell and potentially winning American League MVP in his final season. To hear the interview, go to the D&H audio on demand page.

Throughout the season many have questioned Farrell and his in-game decision making, but Ortiz completely backed his manager, saying he loves the way things are going right now.

“Man, John isn’t wasting time,” Ortiz said. “John, the way he’s managing the bullpen, the way he’s pulling with all of us, it’s perfect. It could get no better. He’s got everything under control really well. We’re so excited. We’re super happy the way he’s doing things right now. He’s not wasting time, any minute. I love the way he’s running this ballclub right now.”

Ortiz is currently tied for second in the American League in batting average, hitting .321, second in RBIs with 124 and leads all of baseball with a slugging percentage of .632. With the numbers he’s putting up, it’s no surprise he’s in the conversation for American League MVP in his final season.

The designated hitter says he doesn’t really care about it, as he’s focused on winning.

“I never really think of it because of all the crap and negativity [it] always brings along with,” Ortiz said. “I have had MVP numbers before and just because I don’t play defense they always down me. They have to always head in a different direction. If it happens, it happens. If it don’t, I’m not really going to go crazy about it. I care about winning and winning another World Series. Those are the things I really care about because personal numbers are always going to be personal numbers.”

Being 40 years old and playing in 145 games, Ortiz admitted he isn’t 100 percent health wise, but is ready for the postseason.

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Rays could be changing minds on only doing small David Ortiz video tribute 09.17.16 at 8:49 am ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

It looks like the Rays have changed their minds.

On Friday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported the Rays weren’t planning any special ceremony for David Ortiz’s last game there next weekend, rather just a short video tribute to be shown prior to the second inning in next Sunday’s series finale.

Now, it looks like that won’t be the case.

“We have the outline of a plan for next Sunday, and we’re waiting for the players to come home so that we can get their input before finalizing the details,” team president Brian Auld said to Topkin later on Friday.

Evan Longoria seems to be one player who would like there to be more than just a small video tribute, as every other team has had a small pregame ceremony and presented him with gifts, or donations to his charity.

“Obviously we would like to do something for (Ortiz),” Longoria said. “I have no answer if that means something monetarily as a donation to his foundation, if that means a gift, I don’t know yet.

“I guess we will get together with Brian and see what makes the most sense. The players want to do something for him. We’ll figure out the best way to accomplish that so we feel like we’ve done it the right way.”

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Would Clay Buchholz be No. 3 starter candidate in postseason? 09.16.16 at 11:56 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz has pitched well of late. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

Clay Buchholz has pitched well of late and could be making a case to start in the postseason. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

It’s been a roller coaster of a season for Clay Buchholz.

His past three outings have been his fourth stint in the starting rotation as because of performance and injuries, Buchholz has gone back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen.

As the Red Sox continue to search for a dependable No. 3 starter, Buchholz is the only pitcher pitching like he wants it.

Buchholz was solid on Friday night to earn the win in the Red Sox’ 7-4 victory over the Yankees. He went six innings, allowed two runs on seven hits, while walking two and striking out two. He picked up his first win at Fenway Park since May 9.

“Not as many walks – the two walks that I did have, found a way to minimize them, had a couple of double plays that helped out,” Buchholz said. “Defense played really good behind me again tonight. It was a grind.i felt like they put up some really tough at-bats together. With that win, its a big win given the situation that we’re in.”

Although he didn’t have a clean inning all night, his ability to pitch out of jams was what made him so effective.

“I thought he did a very good job with men on base,” manager John Farrell said. “He created a couple of jams for himself, but to the left-handers he was able to go to a couple of changeups to get some soft contact. I thought he made a couple of really good fastball pitches in to [Gary] Sanchez for a couple of groundball double plays early on. He’d bend a little bit, but stayed away from the big inning.”

Besides his rough outing in Toronto last Sunday, Buchholz allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings against the Padres on Sept. 6 and then was good again Friday. Prior to the Padres start, he allowed one earned run in each of his prior two starts, so he’s been solid as a starter for well over a month.

Over his last five starts he has an ERA of 3.94, which includes the six runs over three innings against the Blue Jays.

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