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Cleveland moves on to ALCS.
BOSTON (AP) – David Ortiz didn’t want it to end.
With his team trailing the Cleveland Indians by two runs in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, Boston’s biggest star trotted to first base after an eighth-inning walk Monday night and turned toward the Red Sox fans who had cheered him through so many memorable baseball moments for 14 seasons.
Raising his hands high above his head, he tried to clap the Fenway Park crowd into a frenzy one more time.
It wasn’t to be.
After providing so many huge hits for the franchise, winning three World Series championships and becoming a beloved figure in Boston, it was time for Big Papi’s story to end.
That four-pitch walk turned out to be the final plate appearance of his storied, 20-year major league career. He was soon replaced by a pinch runner and left to a standing ovation. But he could only watch from the dugout in a red pullover when Travis Shaw hit a game-ending flyout an inning later as the Red Sox were swept out of the playoffs with a 4-3 loss.
After the final out, the crowd of 39,530 – the largest at Fenway since at least World War II – chanted “We’re not leaving!” and “Thank you, Pa-pi!” for more than 10 minutes, drawing Ortiz back onto the field.
The 40-year-old slugger strolled out to the mound to cheers and tipped his cap in all directions, tapping his heart and eventually wiping tears from his eyes as a year’s worth of emotions flowed through him.
“I went through like three different times where emotions popped. But they’re different,” Ortiz said.
His initial thoughts were about the loss of his friend and Miami Marlins star Jose Fernandez, killed in a boating accident last month. It wasn’t until later that Ortiz thought about his own career.
“Tonight when I walked to the mound, I realized that it was over,” he said. “Even if things didn’t end up the way we were looking for, I believe that in baseball, especially in the baseball game that we play in today’s day, it’s a big step because it’s like going from bad to good, from day to night.”
After a career that included a 2013 World Series MVP award and 10 All-Star appearances, Ortiz had two chances Monday to deliver another one of his characteristic clutch postseason hits.
In the sixth inning against reliever Andrew Miller, the designated hitter came to the plate with one out and runners on second and third, but could only muster a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Dustin Pedroia and pulled Boston to 4-2.