David Ortiz set the major-league mark for home runs in a final season last night at Camden Yards.
The Boston Red Sox designated hitter belted a towering fly ball to right-center in the seventh that just cleared the wall. The three-run homer made the game 5-1 and ultimately provided the difference in the 5-2 Boston victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
The homer put Ortiz one ahead of Dave Kingman, who hit 35 round trippers for the Oakland A’s in 1986. Kingman hit .210 during his swan-song season, which helps explain why he retired after hitting the second most home runs in the American League that year.
Ortiz now boasts 36 home runs in a monster final year that includes a .318 batting average and 121 RBI. Big Papi leads the American League in doubles, slugging percentage, and OPS. Possibly Ortiz’s numbers save Kingman’s record number by compelling the DH to come back for another year.
The win puts Baltimore five back from Boston and gives the Red Sox a comfortable four-game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East. Both the Blue Jays and the Orioles would enjoy a wild-card berth if the postseason began today.