MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins released David Ortiz after the 2002 season. He was a .266 hitter over six seasons and was entering free agency. The organization thought they could do better than to spend their money on a hitter.
Ortiz has delighted in making the Twins regret their decision ever since, no more so than on Saturday night.
Ortiz drove in six with a pair of thunderclap home runs to right field as the Red Sox beat the Twins, 12-5, before a crowd of 36,967.
They say the best revenge is living well. Ortiz is 66 of 199 (.332) against the Twins since they let him go with 15 home runs and 43 RBIs over 53 games. He is 19 of 38 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 10 games at Target Field.
Ortiz admitted he once had extra motivation against the Twins.
“But not any more,” he said. “I just try and go about my business. Guys see me trying to hit the moon every time I hit anyway. So it’s nothing new.”
Ortiz is 6 for 8 with two walks and seven RBIs in the first two games of the current series. The Sox have won four straight and are 4-1 on the road trip.
“I try to do well against everyone, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It worked tonight,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz is hitting .362 on the season with seven home runs and 29 RBIs in 24 games since coming off the disabled list.
“Everything he hits is hard,” Dustin Pedroia said.
The Red Sox had 13 hits off four Twins pitchers. Daniel Nava drove in three runs and Ryan Lavarnway two. Pedroia was 2 for 3 with two walks, an RBI and three runs. He also made the most important defensive play of the game.
“Might have been our best offensive night of the year,” manager John Farrell said. “We worked deep counts, we drove the baseball. . . . We had good at-bats up and down the lineup all night tonight.”
Craig Breslow (1-0) was credited with the win for having pitched most effectively in relief when the game was on the line.
The Sox will have John Lackey on the mound on Sunday as they seek a three-game sweep. They are 13-7 on the road this season.
Minnesota starter Scott Diamond threw seven scoreless innings against the Sox at Fenway Park on May 7. But he did not get through the fifth this time. Diamond gave up six runs on eight hits.
Jacoby Ellsbury started the game with a single. Pedroia drew a walk with one out. Ortiz then hit a hanging curveball into the first row of the seats above the scoreboard in right field.
In the third, Jonny Gomes drew a one-out walk before Pedroia singled to extend his hit streak to 10 games. Ortiz then lined a fastball into right field to give the Red Sox a 4-1 lead.
The Sox scored three more in the fifth inning. Doubles by Gomes and Pedroia accounted for the first one. Pedroia took third when Ortiz grounded out.
Anthony Swarzak replaced Diamond but couldn’t stop the bleeding. After Mike Napoli walked, Nava had a sacrifice fly. Will Middlebrooks then continued his productive stretch with a single. Napoli scored when Lavarnway singled for his first hit of the season. That gave the Sox a 7-2 lead.
Pedroia walked to start the seventh inning and scored on Ortiz’s second home run. Napoli then walked and scored when Nava homered off Casey Fien.
Nava has 27 RBIs in 36 games.
Sox starter Ryan Dempster lasted only 4⅔ innings, giving up five runs on eight hits and six walks. His 127 pitches were tied for the fourth-most in the majors this season.
Dempster took a 7-2 lead into the fifth inning and nearly gave it away. Ryan Doumit doubled and scored on a pair of ground outs. Dempster was an out away from qualifying for a victory.
He never got it. Aaron Hicks walked and stole second and scored on Pedro Florimon’s single. With Dempster at 122 pitches, Farrell came to the mound. But he left Dempster in the game against Jamey Carroll, who was 6 of 20 in his career against him.
Dempster allowed an RBI single to right field and was finally taken out. Clayton Mortensen came on to end the inning.
“I wasn’t very good tonight,” Dempster said. “Throwing strikes, that was a big problem. I just didn’t have anything going tonight. But at the end of the day we won the game and that’s all that matters.”
Farrell admitted that it was a mistake to leave Dempster in. He came to the mound intending to take his pitcher out and was talked out of it.
“In hindsight probably should have the move at the time,” Farrell said. “Still, it’s a veteran guy who’s fine physically in terms of his arm. Trying to get him the last out in the fifth to give him a chance to get a win.”
Mortensen got an out in the sixth inning before Doumit singled and Oswaldo Arcia walked. Breslow came in and walked Trevor Plouffe to load the bases.
Hicks popped up to shallow right field. Pedroia made a basket catch with his back to the plate, spun and threw a one-hop strike to Lavarnway. He took the blow from Doumit and held on for the double play that ended the inning.
Pedroia couldn’t see Doumit from his angle and decided to throw home regardless.
“I had to play it to the side a little bit, spin and throw. I didn’t know if he was running,” Pedroia said.
The throw beat Doumit and Lavarnway had time to brace himself. He held on despite being flipped over.
“That was the first time I completed a backward somersault in a long time,” Lavarnway said.