The Boston slugger smashed a fastball from Toronto's Josh Towers in the eighth inning that landed in the stands in center field and gave the Red Sox a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays on Wednesday at the Rogers Centre.
The win kept the Red Sox (85-60) ahead of the Yankees by 2 1/2 games in the American League East and was the first series victory on the road for Boston since taking two of three from Tampa Bay on July 25-27.
Ortiz's shot was his 42nd of the year and the 38th he's hit serving as designated hitter for the Red Sox. That set a new career high for Ortiz, who hit 41 last year, and broke the single-season DH mark of 37 set by Seattle's Edgar Martinez in 2000.
"That means a lot, because Edgar was one of the best hitters I've ever seen," Ortiz said. "When they match you in that category, it's a great feeling. You're doing what you're supposed to do."
Ortiz has been doing more than Boston probably has expected him to do, though.
The home run on Wednesday was the fourth in the last three games in Toronto and moved Ortiz past New York's Alex Rodriguez for the American League lead. Big Papi also ranks first in the league with 130 RBIs.
Ortiz now has 17 home runs this season that have either tied or given Boston a lead -- eight of those coming in the seventh inning or later. On Monday, he belted a game-winning shot to beat Toronto in 11 innings.
Despite his massive credentials, though, Ortiz still has doubts that he'll be favored to win the American League MVP Award. He has good reason to figure he won't take home the honor, too. No designated hitter has won the MVP since the position was added in 1973.
"As soon as they bring my name up, they say, 'Oh, he's the DH and I don't think he deserves it,'" Ortiz said. "Fine, that's fine with me. But I never saw someone win the MVP because you win the Gold Glove and you hit .230. Anybody that win the MVP because of that? I don't think so."
Boston manager Terry Francona was asked after the game if he could think of something new to say about Ortiz, who was named "The Best Clutch Hitter in the History of the Boston Red Sox," by owner John Henry earlier this month.
"I hope I don't have to. Keeping asking me," Francona said. "I really stay away from talking about MVPs because of how I feel about our team. It just goes against the grain of how I feel. Saying that, I hope when it's time to vote, I mean, this guy is as valuable as anyone that we've seen -- to our club, in the league."
Towers (11-11) had a varying opinion after yielding the home run to Ortiz and getting pinned with the loss.
Red Sox at Blue Jays, Sept. 14
|By smacking a two-run home run in the eighth inning,
David Ortiz set a new single-season mark of long balls by a designated hitter.|
|Ortiz also increased his Major League-leading RBI total to 130. He now has 172 homers in his career.|
"[Designated hitters] don't go through the grind these guys go through defensively -- diving after balls, chasing balls," Towers said. "If you're a DH, you don't go through any of that. ... As good a hitter as he is -- and he's one of the best, no question -- I could never vote for a guy who doesn't do it."
Towers also gave up a most unusual home run in the fifth inning to Boston second baseman Tony Graffanino. Center fielder Gabe Kapler, who reached on an error before Graffanino stepped to the plate, ruptured his left Achilles tendon while running the bases on the homer.
Kapler had to be carted off the field and was replaced by Alejandro Machado, who finished running the bases for the outfielder and scored his first Major League run.
"Winning this game is awesome. That's a big, big game for us to win," Francona said. "But the part about Gabe is hard to swallow."
Thanks to Ortiz's homer, starter David Wells (13-7) earned his fourth win in his last five starts after allowing three runs on seven hits across seven innings. Mike Timlin pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up his eighth save.
"He's been pitching unbelievable," Ortiz said. "And I think he deserves somebody to come into the game, before he gets out, to produce a run for him."
"You win the MVP because you help your ballclub, you win games whenever the team needs it, and because you put up some numbers," he added. "But I can't control that. If they think I deserve it, I'll take it."