Ortiz slump leaves Sox stranded vs. O's

Ortiz slump leaves Sox stranded vs. O's
August 30, 2013, 12:30 am
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BOSTON - Slumps are routine in baseball, but the one David Ortiz is enduring seems worse than most.

Ortiz's last hit came back on the Red Sox's last homestand against the Yankees. He was then hitless on the West Coast trip and
has yet to collect a hit in the three games the Sox have played at Fenway Park this week.
     
On Thursday night, Ortiz was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, stretching his hitless skid to 22 at-bats. As recently as Aug. 9, Ortiz was hitting .333, a high for him in the second-half; now he's at .310.
     
Things came to a head in the bottom of the eighth when the Sox had the potential tying run at third base and Ortiz at the plate against Baltimore reliever Brian Matusz.
     
Matusz, who had held Ortiz to one hit in 17 career at-bats, got him swinging at a third strike, ending the Sox' last best chance.
     
"He's obviously working through some things right now,'' Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "There was no thought about a pinch hit, or trying to take away from what his strengths are [with a bunt against the shift]. We've seen many, many times against left-handers when he stayed inside the ball with either a ground ball up the middle, or a line drive to right-center field.
     
"He's just going through a spell right now and working to get out of it. It looks like he's trying to figure some things out at the plate, with some thoughts that get in the way instead of taking his normal swing. But he's proving as his human. As strong and productive as his year has been, it's not uncommon for guys to go through a stretch like he's in.''
     
"I'm just missing pitches,'' shrugged Ortiz. "When you're missing pitches, you've got to stay aggressive and keep on battling. It happens to everybody, you know? Hey, I'm a player, just like everyone else.
     
"I'm not going to to try to put pressure on myself. I don't think we've got time for that. You just have to keep on trying; that's the only way you can get out of it.''
     
Ortiz stranded three runners and ended three Red Sox innings, two by strikeout. He went down swinging in the first with Jacoby Ellsbury at second. In the third, he flied out to left with Shane Victorino at first. Finally, he fanned with Ellsbury on third in the eighth.
     
Seeing Matusz in that spot was the last thing Ortiz needed.
     
"He comes different every time,'' said Ortiz. "One time, he's explosive. Another time, it seems like he's all over the place. Effectively wild, that's what I would call him. Today, his fastball was racing up and cutting away. I know what he's going to do to me. But when you're swinging and [stuff] isn't coming through, it's easier for them to get the job done.
     
"When you're right, you're right. Since I'm not right right now, I just have to keep battling and try to figure things out.''
     
Ortiz took extra hitting, focusing on trying to take the ball the other way. Farrell said before Thursday's game that Ortiz appeared to be trying to pull everything, so Ortiz attempted some adjustments.
     
"It happens sometimes,'' said Ortiz. "[Others] can see things from the outside that we can't see when we're at the plate. [Stuff] happens. It's not the end of the world. Papi can struggle, too. I'll be back.''
     
As much as Ortiz is struggling, Farrell indicated the Sox aren't contemplating keeping him on the bench.
     
"We're not thinking about sitting him,'' said Farrell. "He was out for some early work today to try to get back the timing that he's been so good at other than these last seven or eight games. So, yeah, he'll be in the lineup tomorrow.''