Better late than never: Ortiz, Napoli come through

Better late than never: Ortiz, Napoli come through
June 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

BOSTON - You could sum up the Red Sox offense for nine innings in one word: pathetic.

Just one - one! - hit for the Sox showed up on Fenway's Green Monster scoreboard, right next to a big fat zero in the runs column.

A Daniel Nava ground rule double was literally Boston's offense to that point in the game, save for a couple baserunners due to errors.

And then Big Papi happened. A solo shot around Pesky pole to tie the game in the 10th. Before fans could sit back down, they were standing right back up again - Mike Napoli had just won the game with a walk-off home run to center field.

Meanwhile, the Fenway Park fire alarms are going off and it's officially madness in here.

Yes, things escalated quickly in the bottom of the 10th inning, thankfully. The fans who stuck it out (and really, it was a quick game - just 2:31 - so hopefully they stayed) were rewarded with a rare ending. It was the Sox' fifth walk-off victory of the season.

"David comes up big once again," Farrell said. "He'd been pulling off some balls. He stayed on a pitch from [Casey] Fien and just hooks one inside the foul pole. I can't tell you the last time we went back-to-back, it's been a while. But it couldn't have been better timing. David's home run gives us a huge lift just to knot it at one. And Nap gets a fastball up on the plate and a good way to finish a well-pitched three-game series here."

The last time the Sox went back to back was on April 26 vs. Toronto (A.J. Pierzynski and Will Middlebrooks!). But the last time Boston walked off with back-to-back home runs was way back on June 14, 1999 when Darren Lewis(!) and Jeff Frye(!) did it in the bottom of the 9th - against the Twins.

"I got down 0-2, took two aggressive swings trying to drive the ball," Napoli said of his walk-off shot. "I know [Fien] likes to elevate with two strikes, so I was just trying to stay short and compact and get a pitch I can handle."

In a season that has had plenty of duds, Napoli's shot may be the spark the Sox need as they head out west for 10 games. It certainly had his teammates all smiles waiting for him to touch home plate. There' no reason to believe the party won't carry over to the cross-country flight.

"Awesome. Those are fun," John Lackey said. "Those are ones that can make a difference. Walk-off kinds are the kind that can roll over, so hopefully we can take that out to the west coast."

For Ortiz, the home run was his 16th of the season. It was also his 9th career extra-inning home run and first since a 10th-inning walk-off on June 24, 2006 against the Phillies.

"Like I said, we haven't been able to produce for our pithing," Ortiz said. "Our pitching has been outstanding lately, and we just haven't been able to hit. Bouncing back and end up winning the game that way, it's like you say, it can turn around the season."

The offense finally showed up Wednesday, but it's got to be more consistent if Boston wants to turn anything around. Soon enough, there will be nowhere left to turn.