BALTIMORE -- Thriving off the bench all season, Mike Carp might be playing himself into a more regular role.
On Sunday, for the second day in a row, Carp started in left field for the Red Sox.
This, after a three-hit performance on Saturday that raised his average to .329. In 143 at-bats entering Sunday's action, he has eight homers, 28 RBIs and a 1.010 OPS.
"Yeah, and obviously he's done a very good job to date," said manager John Farrell. "It's a fresh body. It's a good swing. He's earning the ABs. Not to say that he doesn't have the ability to play more regularly, but we felt like [with] another right-handed starter [against us], another left-handed bat in there is what we're looking for."
The fact that the left-handed bat was Carp instead of Daniel Nava is noteworthy, if only because Nava has been the primary left fielder against righties this season.
"That's bound to happen over the course of a 162-game season," said Nava. "We're in a spot where it's almost like you can't go wrong with who you put in there, because he's swinging the bat well. and then you could go to Jonny [Gomes], and you know the numbers [he has].
"[Carp's] been swinging the bat well. At some point you just have to choose, 'OK, let's go with this guy.' I think that's a great option to have as a manager. Is it a tough option? Yeah. It is. One guy may not be in there who's playing well, but the other guy is playing really, really well."
Carp has maintained a professional attitude all season, no matter how infrequent his playing time. Perhaps that mind-set is what has allowed him to thrive in his uncertain role.
"With a team like this, it's fun coming to the ballpark regardless of whether you're in the lineup or not," Carp said. "Each day, something exciting, something fun is going to happen. You just hope you can be that guy to get the opportunity."
Of course, like any competitor, Carp would rather be the guy playing.
"That's what we're here for," he said. "Everyone wants to be a starter, but you just have to know your role and know where you fit in, and unfortunately for me, it's been more of a bench role this year. But things have changed. There was a time this year where I played a lot, and there's still a lot of baseball left. Still a little more than two months, so anything can happen."
Nava, always a supportive teammate, expressed hope that Carp would hit three home runs in Sunday's game.
"I'd be the first one on the top step congratulating him," Nava said. "That's what it's about. It's not about individuals."
Ortiz makes better use of his bat against Orioles
BALTIMORE -- The David Ortiz that Red Sox fans have come to love over the years is the one who obliterates baseballs, not dugout telephones.
That Big Papi was back on Sunday afternoon, going 4-for-4 and belting a two-run homer to lead Boston to a big 5-0 victory over Baltimore in the rubber match of the three-game series.
Ortiz had become incensed at what he felt were a couple of bad calls by umpire Tim Timmons on Saturday and was so mad that he took his bat to the phone when he got back to the dugout. He was ejected.
But the Orioles couldn't get rid of Ortiz on Sunday.
"Look, I'm not the fan favorite [because of] doing stuff like that," Ortiz said. "It's not my style. I try not to get to that point. There's things that you can't control, and things happen. I know that the fans know me for being a humble person who tries to do everything right. But I ain't perfect. The situation happened that I didn't start up. Things got out of control for a minute, but like I say, it's over."
If the Camden Yards' faithful tried to tame Ortiz by booing him each time he stepped to the plate, they probably only increased his motivation.
"I like the crowd going crazy, cheering against me," he said. "I like that. That's why I love playing in New York. That gets me going."
When Ortiz rounded the bases, he put his finger over his lips, suggesting that the crowd stop the booing.
In the dugout, Ortiz mockingly grabbed his bat and pretended he was going to go after the phone again, but he laughed and walked away.
His teammates also had a little fun in the hours leading up to the game.
"I'll tell you what, that started before the game," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "I think [Dustin Pedroia's] the one that started the whole thing with him, getting him amped up. When the fans got on him, he's the one guy you don't want to mess with."
It was clear all day that the Red Sox were trying to defuse the situation with some levity.
Hours before the game, Jonny Gomes and Ryan Dempster hooked some wires from the top of the phone to a can of green beans, doing the "Can you hear me now?" routine.
Manager John Farrell doesn't expect his star slugger to be suspended for Saturday's incident.
Ortiz never made any type of contact with Timmons, though he did softly throw one of his arm guards in Timmons' direction.
"Even after watching the highlights and the replay of it, probably even more so this morning than last night," said Farrell when asked if he is still confident Ortiz would avoid a suspension. "He saw the flight of the ball and assumed it would be a ball. Everybody in the ballpark assumed that, too.
"He's been in situations, particularly with right-handed pitchers on the mound, where they've chosen not to pitch to him and pitch around him. We've seen it time and time again. That wasn't the case last night -- or [the pitcher] wasn't allowed to pitch around him."
And on Sunday the Orioles went right after Ortiz, and that clearly didn't work.
Salty gets start; Lavarnway set for Monday
BALTIMORE -- Two days after manager John Farrell said that Ryan Lavarnway would likely get the start behind the plate for Sunday's day game after Saturday's night game, he reversed course. There Jarrod Saltalamacchia was again, starting for the fifth straight game.
Ever since David Ross went down with his second concussion, the Red Sox have become more reliant on Saltalamacchia, with backup Lavarnway playing sparingly.
The main reason Saltalamacchia started on Sunday is because of the rapport he has built with starter Jon Lester.
"Today is probably as much about the combination of Salty and Jon," said Farrell. "That's not to take anything away from Ryan, but there's a rapport there that's been built over the last few years with Salty and Jon, and we want to preserve that."
Because Saltalamacchia is a better hitter from the left side, Farrell figured it made more sense to give Lavarnway the start at Fenway on Monday night, when the Sox face Rays ace David Price.