By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON With one swing of the bat, David Ortiz reached three milestones Wednesday night, doing so in his inimitable Big Papi style. Ortiz had just one of the Red Sox 16 hits against the Royals Wednesday night at Fenway Park, but it was the teams biggest hit of the night.
With two outs and the bases loaded Dustin Pedroia on third, Adrian Gonzalez on second, and Kevin Youkilis on first -- in the fourth inning, Ortiz took a 3-1 pitch from left-hander Bruce Chen and blasted it into well beyond the bullpens into the bleachers in right field for his 10th career grand slam and team-leading 20th home run of the season.
Ortizs blast the first grand slam for the Sox this season and his first since July 30, 2010 off Detroits Jose Valverde was part of the five-run fourth inning that broke open a two-run game, putting the Sox well out in front of the Royals on their way to a 12-5 win. It was also Ortizs ninth slam with the Sox, tying him for second all-time with Rico Petrocelli, behind only Ted Williams 17 career slams.
You dont get to hit with bases loaded all that often and he hit it about 400 feet, said manager Terry Francona. Hes been doing it all year. I think a lot of times with David with RBIs its opportunities, with all hitters, come up with bases loaded enough and nowhere to put him.
Two outs and he separated the game like that, yeah, thats huge.
The slam accounted for RBI Nos. 997 1,000 for Ortiz with the Sox, putting him in the company of Hall of Famers Carl Yastrzemski (1,844), Williams (1,839), Jim Rice (1,451), and Bobby Doerr (1,247) along with Dwight Evans (1,346), among Sox players who have reached the 1,000-RBI mark.
Hell probably hopefully fly right by that and work on the next 1000, Francona said.
Ortiz has now reached the 20-homer mark for the 10th straight season.
These kinds of milestones dont go unnoticed or unappreciated -- by Ortiz.
I been here, this is what? My ninth year here? Your name gets in the mix with guys that played here their whole careers, Ortiz said. Its a compliment, something that you dont think about it right now when youre playing. But when you're done you kind of sit down and go, Wow, I did OK when I was there.
In his first five games after the All-Star break, Ortiz struggled, going just 3-for-20 with four RBI and two walks attributable, some speculated, to his participation in the Home Run Derby. He also missed time during Interleague play
and while serving a three-game suspension.
In his last three games, though, he has gone 9-for-18 with nine RBI (all in his last two games) and a home run.
Ive been feeling good, he said. Weve had a lot of ups and downs in the season and Ive been having, especially this past month, a lot of issues with the playing time thing. Interleague, All-Star Game, suspension and other stuff. Theres a lot of games you walk away from and, to tell you the truth, Im not ready for that. Im ready to play every day but not too much you can do about it. So I just try to use my head and whatever I know that will make me feel to get to the point I want to get at. I keep on trying and not put negative stuff in my head.
Right now hes just trying to have consistent at-bats.
You have to, he said. You guys sit down and watch the game and the pitcher dont care if you play or not. They just try to make good pitches because they know when they make mistakes they pay for them. So its just something you got
to be aware of and be patient.
Ortiz, who is batting .305 overall, is now batting .340 (36-for-106) with six home runs against left-handed pitchers. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was on deck for Ortizs milestone homer.
The way he hit that ball, he crushed that ball, Saltalamacchia said. When him and Adrian Gonzalez are hitting we always seem to win games because we got the middle of the order hitting.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Ortiz is just looking for his pitch. This time he got it, a slider from Chen.
I try to be selective no matter what, he said. Trust me, the pitcher rather walk you in that situation than give you a pitch you score four runs in that situation. So they always try to not make mistakes and you got to be ready for that.
This time Ortiz was ready.
Asked if he knew immediately the ball was gone, Ortiz, also in his inimitable way with one of his trademark smiles replied:
Cmon, you know that.
And with that, he left the park. His night was done.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.