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BOSTON (CBS) – After Jonny Gomes led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a double, the Texas Rangers decided it was best to walk Dustin Pedroia to get to David Ortiz.
Pedroia has been red hot lately, and in giving him the free bag set up a potential double play.
It did more than that though. Ortiz rocketed the first pitch he saw into the Rangers’ bullpen for his 11th career walk-off home run, and propelling Boston to a 6-3 win over the best team in the American League.
Ortiz understands intentionally walking Pedroia, but at the same time said move woke up him.
“You don’t wake up a monster like that,” Ortiz said after the game — the blast his only hit of the evening. “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Of the 41 times Ortiz has come up to bat following an intentional walk, this was the first time he hit the ball out of the park.
“I don’t know if guys take it as an additional challenge,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of players stepping to the plate following a free pass. “I do know that David’s come up in that situation many times in his career. Today, as we’re concerned, one of the more exciting times in the season.”
Thursday night was Ortiz’ first walk-off since August 26, 2009, when he took Chicago White Sox reliever Tony Pena deep with one out in the ninth to give Boston a 3-2 win.
“They don’t like to mess with Papi late in the game. They stopped doing that,” said Ortiz. “This might be the first time I got pitched late in the game in that kind of a situation. Most of the time I get a walk or something else happened. So I just took my patience.”
Walk-offs are nothing new to Ortiz, and Red Sox fans are very familiar with his track record in the clutch. Papi now ranks tied for seventh all-time with 11 career walk-off home runs — the most among active players. His 10 walk-off bombs with Boston are the most in club history, two ahead of Jimmie Foxx’s eight.
Overall, Ortiz has 19 regular-season, walk-off hits in his career, also tops among active players. Sixteen of those have come with Boston with another three career walk-off hits in the postseason, all coming in Boston’s dramatic World Series run in 2004.