<
>

Papi dials up a classic

BALTIMORE -- This was worlds colliding, Downton Abbey morphing in front of David Ortiz's locker in the visiting clubhouse Sunday afternoon.

Lord Grantham has Carson the butler. Big Papi had the young man who meticulously packed Ortiz's toiletries, checked his cell phone, filled up his equipment bag, then eagerly accepted the blazer handed to him by Ortiz before the player turned his back and allowed the young man to slip it onto his broad shoulders. Ortiz did it so naturally, you might have imagined he was born into royalty -- or as a Kennedy.

One final touch -- the designer sunglasses Ortiz put on without assistance -- and then he was ready to face the peasants -- uh, reporters -- awaiting his pleasure.

On an afternoon in which he went 4-for-4 and hit his 20th home run, the perks of being the best DH in baseball have rarely been more conspicuously on exhibit. Especially when only hours before, the wrath of Papi had been on full display, Ortiz taking his bat to a dugout phone and shattering it into pieces after plate umpire Tim Timmons had called a stray pitch a strike, then compounded his evident mistake by failing to acknowledge the error of his ways to Ortiz, who was not about to abide that slight.

By Sunday afternoon, the episode, Ortiz insisted, was behind him, although there may have been a healthy dose of aggression left over.

"After he took it out on the phone last night, he took it out on the baseball today,'' manager John Farrell said after a 6-0 win catapulted Boston back into first place in the AL East by a half-game over Tampa Bay, who return to Fenway Park on Monday night for a makeup game against the Sox.

There was no question who was the designated villain of Sunday's set piece for the crowd of 32,891 in Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The boos could be heard on the boats bobbing in the Inner Harbor when Ortiz came to the plate the first time, though on each successful Ortiz swing -- single the first time, two-run home run the second, single the third, single the fourth -- the crowd's antipathy became a losing proposition.

Ortiz reminded the crowd of what they were up against when he gleefully rounded third and placed his finger to his lips in a shushing motion, then entertained his teammates by taking a mock run at the phone he'd tried to permanently disconnect the night before.

"I liked the crowd went crazy, even against me,'' he said. "I liked that. That's why I like playing in New York. It gets me going.''

Ortiz's first hit set up Mike Napoli's RBI fly-ball double into the right-field corner. His home run, with Jacoby Ellsbury aboard on a single, made it 3-0 in the third. His last hit preceded Jarrod Saltalamacchia's two-run single that closed out the day's scoring in the eighth inning.

With Jon Lester and two relievers putting up only zeroes, the Sox took the rubber game of this three-game set, the first series they've won in their past seven head-to-head meetings against the Orioles.

Baltimore has lost five of its past six, and fell five games behind Boston in the AL East. After banging four home runs in Friday night's opener, a 6-0 Orioles win, the Orioles were kept within the premises by Sox pitchers, Lester limiting them to four singles on Sunday. No Baltimore baserunner advanced as far as third base, the post occupied by Timmons in Sunday's umpire rotation.

Ortiz made it to third on three separate occasions, but if he had anything to say to the umpire, it was not apparent, and he did not admit to doing so.

"It's over,'' he said. "I turned the page. Whatever happened yesterday happened yesterday. It's over. Another day, another game, move on.''

No one on the Sox side, including Ortiz, expects any further disciplinary action beyond the ejection. Farrell said Sunday morning that he had not heard from MLB. Teammates Jonny Gomes and Ryan Dempster fashioned a makeshift phone from a vegetable can and string, and placed it on top of the phone that had already been replaced since Ortiz wreaked havoc.

"Guys were saying, maybe we should all beat the hell out of a phone and see what happens,'' Lester said.

Ortiz was asked if he had any second thoughts about venting the way he did.

"Look, I'm not like the fan favorite to do something like that,'' he said. "It's not my style. I try not to get to that point. There are things you can't control. Things happen. I know fans know me for being a humble person. I try to do everything right, but I ain't perfect, you know what I'm saying.

"The situation happened. I didn't start it up. So things got out of control for a minute. Like I said, it's over.''

Soon enough, David Ortiz, humble person, left the clubhouse to catch the team bus to the airport. We'll let you decide if someone held the clubhouse door open for him.