BOSTON — With the curtain about to come down on his brilliant career, David Ortiz continues to show the baseball world we probably haven’t seen the final act.
“Almost a storybook night for David Ortiz,” Boston manager John Farrell said after Ortiz capped off the first night of his final (regular season) weekend celebration with a two-run homer that broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning and gave the Red Sox an important 5-3 victory over the sagging Toronto Blue Jays.
The retiring designated hitter, honored before the game to start the festive weekend, singled home a run in the first inning and came through in the seventh with his 38th homer of the year — and RBIs 126 and 127.
Told his manager used the word storybook, Ortiz said, “I wish it is. We work pretty hard to get here, and it’s working out pretty good.”
“Nights like tonight he almost leaves you speechless,” said Farrell. “Given the career he’s had, the number of home runs hit from the seventh inning on in ballgames in big moments, tonight is right there with them.”
Before the game, Ortiz talked about his special postseason against the Yankees in 2004 as the highlight of his big hits. Then he went out and added another one.
“I’ve seen it for 10 years. It’s pretty special, man,” said teammate Dustin Pedroia, whose three hits vaulted him over 200 for the second time in his career. “Every time there’s a big situation, he’s always found a way to come through. We get to enjoy it, ’cause it’s pretty special.”
The win, in a game delayed at the start and played in a steady mist, kept the Red Sox one half-game ahead of Cleveland for home-field advantage in the American League Division Series matchup. The Red Sox were eliminated from gaining the top seed when the Texas Rangers won later Friday night.
“We kind of anticipated this might be the way that it shakes out,” Farrell said about meeting Cleveland and former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, his close friend and old boss. “Obviously a very good team. We’ll have time to review them more in depth as is typically the case when we get ready for the postseason, but we’re looking forward to these final two games here.”
The Blue Jays lost their third straight and fell a game behind the Baltimore Orioles for the top wild-card spot and also saw their lead over the Detroit Tigers shrink to one-half game.
“Have to forget about today,” said Marco Estrada, who pitched five innings and was in line for the win before the Red Sox rallied. “Obviously, it was a tough game. We needed it, we need every game. Makes it tough not pulling this one but we’re still in it. We’re right there. We just have to keep battling and tell yourself to stay positive.”
Ortiz was 6-for-31 with one home run and 10 strikeouts against left-hander Brett Cecil, who came on to face him. A throwing error by catcher Russell Martin and RBI single by Mookie Betts tied the game off reliever Joe Biagini (4-3).
Brad Ziegler (4-6) worked the seventh in relief of Rick Porcello and got the win. Koji Uehara pitched the eighth and Craig Kimbrel worked the ninth for his 31st save as the Red Sox snapped a three-game losing streak.
The end wasn’t easy as Kimbrel, who failed to close Wednesday night’s game in New York, walked two before striking out pinch hitter Dioner Navarro out on three pitches to end Friday’s contest.
Jose Bautista hit his 24th Fenway Park homer and 41st against the Red Sox to give the Jays a 3-1 lead against Porcello in the fifth. Josh Donaldson’s sacrifice fly got the first run home.
Devon Travis had three hits for the Jays.
NOTES: The first of two weekend David Ortiz ceremonies took place before the game, with Red Sox players wearing Ortiz patches on their hats and uniforms. … The Red Sox observed a moment of silence for Jose Fernandez. … Boston manager John Farrell said RHP Steven Wright (shoulder) threw again Friday but won’t be ready for the ALDS. … Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts, hitting .236 in September but 5-for-14 in the series in New York, was dropped to sixth in the batting order and was 1-for-4. … Toronto LHP J.A. Happ goes for his 21st win when he faces LHP Eduardo Rodriguez in a rain-threatened second game of the series Saturday night. He is 2-0 against the Red Sox this season, while Rodriguez is 0-2 against the Jays but is coming off striking out 13 in 5 1/3 innings in his last start at Tampa Bay. … Farrell said Brock Holt, not Travis Shaw, is the left-handed part of the third base platoon with Aaron Hill.