David Ortiz did his most damage against the Blue Jays in a career that will end with his enshrinement in Cooperstown this summer
The capacity crowd of 48,000 gathered at the Rogers Centre on Sept. 11, 2016, left that Sunday afternoon breathing a sigh of relief knowing they would never have to deal with him again. David Ortiz, who terrorized the Blue Jays in the 14 seasons since joining the Boston Red Sox, took one last opportunity to do it again. It was Ortiz’s three-run homer in the top of the sixth inning that proved the difference in an 11-8 Red Sox win.
“Toronto is a very nice place to play baseball and a beautiful city. It’s always a pleasure to come here,” Ortiz said following the game, the last he would ever play in Toronto. It might have been the understatement of the century.
Ortiz, the Red Sox feared slugger, was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday, earning 77.9 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility. This summer, when he stands on the stage in Cooperstown, he should take a moment to thank the 140 different Blue Jays pitchers he faced, for they were a big part of what got him there.
Ortiz proved to be the most dangerous opponent in Blue Jays franchise history
The Blue Jays franchise came into being in 1977. In the 45 years since there has never been a more prolific opponent at inflicting damage on Blue Jays pitching than Ortiz. Ortiz played 251 games against the Blue Jays, the most of any opponent in his career. His 62 home runs are the most of any opposing player in franchise history. He also has the most RBI (192) and extra-base hits (134; only Alex Rodriguez is within 40 of him).
In the Wild Card era, which began in 1995, only Rodriguez (against the Angels and Orioles) hit more home runs against a single opponent than Ortiz did against the Blue Jays. Rodriguez’s 211 RBI against the Orioles is the only total higher than that compiled by Ortiz in a career spent feasting on Blue Jays pitching. Ortiz was so dominant in his games against the Blue Jays that he ranks sixth all-time in homers by a left-handed batter at the Rogers Centre. The other members of the top-12 on that list all have one thing in common: they actually played for the Blue Jays.
Not even Roy Halladay was immune from Ortiz’s power. Ortiz hit .273 against the Blue Jays ace with six home runs. No player hit more home runs against Halladay. They’ll now spend eternity sharing the plaque gallery in Cooperstown.
Ortiz began his career with the Minnesota Twins. Displaying some flashes of power but otherwise putting up less-than-stellar numbers, it was a longshot that he would ever be in contention for the Hall of Fame. Then he was released and signed by the Red Sox on a one-year deal in 2003. It was a signing that the Blue Jays would come to rue for more than a decade. Ortiz and the Red Sox won three World Series titles; the Blue Jays didn’t even make the postseason until 2015.
He finished his career with 541 home runs, 17th on the all-time list. Fittingly, the last one was against the Blue Jays, a two-run shot off Brett Cecil at Fenway Park that, again, was the final margin in a Red Sox win. The Jays were happy to see him leave after that season. He had done enough damage.