Sunday, February 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Boston stars come out to wish Ortiz farewell

BOSTON — David Ortiz is down to his final regular-season game, and it will be an important one for the Red Sox.

With their 40-year-old slugger heading into retirement, the Red Sox could use a victory on Sunday to help their chances of earning homefield advantage in their AL Division Series against Cleveland.

"Obviously, we would like the home-field advantage," Boston utilityman Brock Holt said after a 4-3 loss to Toronto. "We'll come ready to go. Hopefully we'll play that first game here."

The Indians (93-67) would open at home if they win their last two games, or even one if Boston (93-68) loses its finale against Toronto on Sunday.

One night after the Blue Jays blew a 3-1 lead and gave up Ortiz's game-winning homer, Toronto's J.A. Happ seemed poised to pick up his 21st win.

But with the Blue Jays leading 3-2 in the eighth, Mookie Betts doubled, took third on Brock Holt's hard-hit double-play ball and then scored to tie it when closer Roberto Osuna balked in the winning run.

In the ninth, though, Ezequiel Carrera delivered a sacrifice fly and Toronto won to move into a tie with Baltimore for the top spot in the AL wild-card race.

"We had the lead and the tying run scores on balk. I was worried about the baseball gods," said manager John Gibbons, whose team is tied with the Orioles at 88 wins with one to play. "We want to enjoy this one. They're hard to come by."

Toronto owns the tiebreaker with Baltimore. Detroit and Seattle are also still in the wild-card hunt.

Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel (2-6) has losses in two of his last three appearances, issuing six walks while completing two innings. Since Sept. 22, his ERA has risen from 2.52 to 3.40.

The 21-year-old Osuna (4-3) retired the Red Sox in order in the ninth to recover from his sixth blown save of the season.

PREGAME FESTIVITIES: Hockey great Bobby Orr, NFL Hall of Famer Andre Tippett and the entire current Boston Celtics roster joined Ortiz on the field at Fenway Park on Saturday night to help celebrate Big Papi on his way into retirement.

The ceremony also featured former patients at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, who Ortiz helped through his work for the Jimmy Fund. And Boston Marathon bombing victims also joined the sports stars on the field to thank Ortiz for his defiant and inspirational speech after the 2013 finish line attacks.

The basketball players all wore Celtics jerseys with Ortiz's No. 34. Many of them asked the Red Sox designated hitter to sign their shirts, and several posed for selfies with him.

Ortiz has said he will retire at the end of the season, and the Red Sox planned celebrations for the final weekend series at Fenway. Friday night's ceremony included beneficiaries of the David Ortiz Children's Fund; Sunday is expected to feature Ortiz's former teammates.

AT THE PLATE: As they have much of the season, the Fenway fans rose to a standing ovation when Ortiz came to the plate in the first. With a runner on first, he worked the count full and drew a walk.

It was the 1,319th walk of Ortiz's career, tying Tony Phillips for 40th on baseball's career list.

Ortiz was tagged out going from first to second when Betts followed with a grounder.

Ortiz grounded out in the second inning with two on and two out, hitting a grounder that got under the glove of shifted shortstop Troy Tulowitzki but was grabbed in shallow right by Devon Travis.

In the fifth, Ortiz singled on a line drive to right and was replaced by a pinch hitter. He tipped his helmet to the cheering crowd as he left the diamond.

"We know what he's dealing with," manager John Farrell said of Ortiz's difficulty running. "Under the conditions tonight and the way he got down the line in that second at-bat, it felt like three was enough."

UP NEXT: Former Blue Jays left-hander David Price (17-9, 4.04) will start for Boston on Sunday. He took the loss in his previous start Tuesday against the Yankees, halting his career-best, eight-game winning streak.

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