Fond farewell: Ortiz sets homer record

Sox slugger has most long balls by player in final season

Fond farewell: Ortiz sets homer record

BALTIMORE -- After another milestone moment on Tuesday night, David Ortiz made a statement.

"Forty is the new 20," Ortiz chuckled on a night his three-run homer was the difference in the Red Sox's 5-2 win over the Orioles.

The home run, a blast that soared over the wall in center, was No. 36 on the season.

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If Ortiz follows through with his plans to retire -- and there's no reason to suggest he won't -- he would hold the record for most home runs hit by a player in a final season.

Dave Kingman had the previous record, with 35 in 1986.

But what makes Ortiz smile broadly these days are the wins. The Red Sox have six in a row, 87 for the season and a four-game lead in the American League East.

With three more RBIs, Ortiz would surpass Shoeless Joe Jackson in 1920 for the most RBIs in a final season, at 124.

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"It's just a number," said Ortiz. "I'm just trying to help this ballclub and I don't really care about personal numbers. I care about winning."

When Ortiz announced his pending retirement on his 40th birthday last November, he was determined to go out as one of the elite hitters in the game.

"Our fans deserve that," said Ortiz. "Everybody wishes in their last year playing in front of the fans could have a good season. I worked this offseason to have a good year. I didn't know it was going to turn out to be this good, but I worked for it."

Impressively, Ortiz hit his homer on a 97-mph fastball by Kevin Gausman in the seventh.

"My at-bat against Gasuman, I had to shoot for something. But the experience played out in that at-bat," said Ortiz. "Like, I told myself, 'Well, I have to shoot for either fastball or splitter.' But I know he's throwing his best fastball right now. Sometimes we get caught in trouble when we have that doubt about the things we want to do."

Without a doubt, and no matter what happens from here, Ortiz's final season will be one for the ages.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.