Teammates marvel at slugger's knack for coming through in clutch spots
BOSTON -- With David Ortiz in the postseason, it has never been a matter of if. It's always been a matter of when.
He had played in 14 playoff series over eight years and had at least one hit in all of them. Without a hit in the 2013 American League Championship Series until the eighth inning of Game 2 on Sunday, Ortiz had built up enough pressure.
He was 0-for-6 with four strikeouts in the series and his team desperately needed him. The Red Sox had the bases loaded with two outs. The Tigers, not taking any chances, brought in their closer, Joaquin Benoit, who had held Ortiz without an extra-base hit in 27 career plate appearances.
More built up pressure. Ortiz couldn't wait any longer.
The Red Sox had swung at 12 of 65 first pitches in the series and their patience wasn't paying off. On the first pitch Ortiz saw, he took one big cut.
He was looking for something offspeed. He got a changeup. And he hit a line drive over the right-field wall and into the Red Sox bullpen for a grand slam. Boston went on to win, 6-5, to even the series.
"I tell you what, man, postseason is something that it can work both ways for you," Ortiz said. "It can go well if you stay calm. Or it can go bad if you try to overdo things.
"Like [Saturday] night, pretty much all of us were trying to overdo things. I was trying to produce for the team when the opposition is pitching me very carefully. I was chasing a lot of bad pitches, I feel like I was jumping a little bit. In my first couple of at bats [Sunday], I feel like I was doing some funny things.
"We've had four days off and sometimes it can go against you when you're not facing pitching. And it happens. It happens to all of us. So we pretty much needed the momentum going. And I think winning this game is going to tell a lot."
The Red Sox were just about dead in the water, on the verge of becoming the fourth team to get shut out two consecutive games in the postseason since 2000, and ready to face a 2-0 deficit that has only been overcome five times in 42 attempts.
Most career postseason home runs
With one swing, Ortiz erased a 5-1 Tigers lead and dramatically altered the Red Sox's chances.
"Just pandemonium," catcher David Ross described the scene in the dugout. "People going crazy. High-fiving. People screaming."
It marked Ortiz's 15th playoff home run in his 15th playoff series. Consistency is predictable.
"What do we think?" said shortstop Stephen Drew. "We think he's going to come through. We've seen it all year and to hit a grand slam like that on a line drive … right field is not a joke out there. It's a big yard. For him to do it on a line drive, it's huge."
Benoit could only marvel.
"It's not a secret that he's a good postseason hitter," he said.
It was all just a matter of time.
With Ortiz, the home runs always seem to come, and often at the right time. Just be patient.
"That's the thing, up to that point he was quiet, to say the least," said outfielder Shane Victorino. "For me, that guy is never quiet. People are going to think he's quiet, but he has a knack for heroics. It's fun to watch, fun to be on this side, and I'll never count him out, no matter if he's 0-for-3 or 3-for-3, he's going to come up and keep plugging along.
"Obviously tonight that was a very big at-bat, and it's great to see. He's always upbeat and always positive. As frustrating as it gets at some times for all of us, for him, he's always positive. He always wants to swing the bat. That's what he gets paid to do. And he'll tell you that straight: That's my one job, to go up there and swing the bat. He definitely carried us again."
Said outfielder Jonny Gomes, "Ortiz -- that just adds to his resume of awesomeness."