MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins released David Ortiz after the 2002 season, deciding against going to salary arbitration with a part-time player not viewed as critical to their success.
All these years later, Ortiz keeps reminding the Twins of their mistake. He hit two more home runs and doubled on Wednesday night as the simmering Red Sox won, 9-4.
Ortiz is 7 for 10 the last two nights with four home runs and six RBIs.
In 56 career games against the Twins since he signed with the Red Sox, Big Papi is 75 of 214 (.350) with 18 doubles, 19 home runs, and 49 RBIs.
“I try to do this every day. They just don’t let me,” Ortiz said.
In the past, Ortiz has admitted being angry with the Twins for giving up on him, particularly former manager Tom Kelly. But at age 38, those feelings have faded.
“I thank those guys, to be honest with you,” Ortiz said. “I learned a lot of good things from those guys. Going through a tough situation playing here, this and that, those guys, at least they taught me not to take anything for granted and work hard every day to get better.”
Maybe the hot streak is more a function of the weather and the schedule. Ortiz predicted this month his bat would heat up as the weather did and that proved accurate.
He is 15 of 29 in his last seven games with three doubles, five home runs, and eight RBIs. Ortiz is up to .305 on the season with 11 homers and 25 RBIs.
“The first month of the season, it was horrible. We faced really, really good pitching,” Ortiz said. “I’m not taking credit away from anybody, but we faced [great] pitchers and we dealt with some cold games.”
Sox manager John Farrell said Ortiz is now swinging the bat much like he did during the World Series last fall. He is generating power and timing with a bigger leg kick than he had earlier in the season while still covering the strike zone.
“They’re throwing pitches on the plate for him and he’s not missing them,” Farrell said. “He’s in a very rare stretch right now. . . . When he squares a ball up, there’s no ballpark in the country that’s going to hold him in.”
Said teammate Xander Bogaerts: “If I was a pitcher, I wouldn’t pitch to him.”
As Ortiz served up some more cold revenge on his former team, Felix Doubront (2-3) pitched into the seventh inning and allowed one run on seven hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
Grady Sizemore and A.J. Pierzynski, another former Twin, each drove in two runs.
The Sox have won five of eight and are now a half-game out of first place in the American League East behind the Baltimore Orioles.
They are 3-2 on a road trip that ends this afternoon with Clay Buchholz facing Phil Hughes.
“It’s starting to look the way we want it to look,” Pierzynski said.
The Red Sox built a 5-1 lead on Minnesota starter Kevin Correia (1-5) by the fourth inning.
In what has become a habit on this road trip, the Sox scored in the first inning. Shane Victorino singled into left field and took third when Ortiz doubled to right field.
Mike Napoli drove in Victorino when he grounded to second base. Sizemore, who is starting to produce as part of the left field platoon with Jonny Gomes, lined an RBI double to the gap in right field.
Ortiz homered to right field with two outs in the third inning, driving a slider into the upper deck. It was his 383d home run with the Red Sox, moving Ortiz past Jim Rice into sole possession of third place in team history.
Napoli followed the home run with a double to right field. That extended his streak of reaching base safely to 33 games. Sizemore’s single to center field scored Napoli.
Bogaerts, who was slumping on the road trip, doubled to start the fourth inning and scored on a single by another slumping hitter, Will Middlebrooks.
Correia was done after allowing five runs on nine hits over four innings. Caleb Thielbar replaced him for the fifth inning, with Ortiz leading off.
You can guess what happened when Thielbar fell behind Ortiz 3-and-1 and left a fastball over the plate. Ortiz hammered it to right field for his second home run.
The shot gave Ortiz 442 career home runs, tying Dave Kingman for 39th place all-time. Ortiz became the first Red Sox player to hit two home runs in consecutive games since . . . David Ortiz on July 4 and 5, 2003.
In 13 games at Target Field, Ortiz is 28 of 53 with 13 extra-base hits and 22 RBIs.
As Ortiz and the rest of the hitters were piling up runs, Doubront pitched his best game of the season.
“I felt pretty good. I limited the damage in the first couple of innings,” Doubront said. “I was pretty confident in those situations and positive throwing the ball.”
The All-Star Game will be at Target Field on July 15 and Ortiz seems sure to be there for the American League. But the last two nights haven’t convinced him to try the Home Run Derby again.
“No, man. I’m old for that,” he said. “I’m going to let the youngsters do that. It would be too much for my body right now to do that.”