ON THIS DATE (July 31, 2006) ...
MVP!" cascaded through every nook and cranny of this ancient fossil
of a ballpark, that in nearly a century has never seen anyone close a
show with the flourish David Ortiz does, time and again. The first
plaque, the one presented to Ortiz last September by the Sox owners
in a collective spasm of joy, pronounced Ortiz "The Greatest Clutch
Hitter in the History of the Boston Red Sox." What can possibly be
added to that after Ortiz delivered another you-can't-be-serious,
he-did-it-again??!!! Walk-off home run, a three-run laser into the
center-field seats that lifted the Sox to a 9-8 win over the dazed
Cleveland Indians and rewrote more pages in the annals of wondrous
feats by Sox sluggers.
game-winner was his second home run of the night, his major league-leading 37th
of the season, and his 14th in the month, the most ever by a Sox player in July.
He equaled Jackie Jensen's record for most homers by a Sox player in any month
(Jensen did it in June 1958). His four RBIs give him 105 for the season, the
most any Sox player has had on the eve of August. Ted Williams and Vern Stephens
each had 104 RBIs by July 31 in 1950.
night-transforming home run also came as something of a baptism for a
22-year-old Indians rookie from the Dominican Republic named Fausto Carmona, who
had been the closer for all of 11 days and was facing his first save situation.
Carmona's first mistake was to give up a single to Alex Cora to lead off the
bottom of the ninth with the Sox trailing by two, 8-6. His second mistake was to
walk Kevin Youkilis, putting the tying runs on base. Carmona may have thought he
bought himself some time when he induced the next hitter, Mark Loretta, to pop
out. Instead, he bought himself a ticket to another Big Papi moment, one that
began with Carmona missing the strike zone with his first two offerings, before
Ortiz swung and didn't miss.
walk-off home run was his third this season, seventh in the regular season for
the Red Sox, and eighth regular-season walk-off of his career. He has 15
walk-off hits in all, a dozen as a member of the Red Sox, five in the last 51
days starting June 11.