BOSTON How are all those prognostications who predicted David Ortizs demise looking now?
Ortiz is hitting .325 with 13 home runs and 30 RBI. He is among the league leaders in several offensive categories including average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs, hits, multihit games, total bases, and extra-base hits.
Better yet, he is hitting .355 (22-for-62) against left-handers this season. A career .260 hitter against lefties, he went 3-for-3 against Oakland starter Brett Anderson Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park. Entering the game, Ortiz had just one hit in 10 career at-bats against Anderson.
His three hits Sunday tie a season high for the fifth time, all since May 5. Since May 31, he is 7-for-8 (.875) against lefties, with three doubles, a home run, and five RBI. Its the ninth time in his career hes had at least three hits in a game against a lefty. The last, though, was, Sept. 21, 2007, at Tampa Bay.
Hes taking a different approach at the plate this season, he said.
I always hit against lefties, he said. But I got to say I got caught into not putting attention to it the past few years and because of that I walked into bad habits. But I always had some good at-bats, even not hitting for average against lefties. The year before I had some good at-bats against lefties and then mostly I turned away from what I wanted to do. Right now, what Im doing is just trusting my hands and not try to look for both sides of the plate. I pick one side and I go from there and then when they give me the pitch Im not missing it. Thats it.
Because lefties are super-tricky. That guy Sunday, hes tough. But you know what? He knows how to use both sides of the plate. But I didnt go to the plate looking for both sides of the plate. Every pitch he threw me was what I was looking for, away. He gave me pitches away. Hell throw it in. But if youre looking for both, youre not going to react. Throw two baseballs to someone at once, see which one they hit. Thats what happens when youre looking on both sides of the plate. Youre looking for two baseballs. you cant do that. I got caught into that a lot.
Hes trying to return to the approach he used in 2006, when he hit .278 against lefties with 18 home runs in 205 at-bats.
The past few years have been when I havent put up great numbers against lefties. But I have hit lefties before. There was one year that I hit like 18, 20 homers against lefties in 2006. So its not like I never hit lefties. Im just making adjustments. Im going to try to stay there all year. We got four months left. The good thing is that you got fellow lefties Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez hitting in front of me. I watch video. I get my idea from what I see that day. We try to take advantage of it. Thats about it.
The lone out he made Sunday came in the seventh inning, against right-hander Fautino De Los Santos, a long fly ball to deep center, which Coco Crisp tracked down. With three hits already, Ortiz could joke about the out.
Man, only Coco can get that, Ortiz said. You saw that. I went to the video and I was like, Coco why you got to do me like that? Cocos one of the best out there. What can you do?
When Ortiz is doing what he can do, especially against lefties like he has been, it makes the Sox lineup that much more potent.
Remember last year when things were going rough for us against lefties? said manager Terry Francona. There were days when David or J.D. Drew didnt do anything. It made us vulnerable. Right now, Davids, thats a good a swing as youre going to see. The one out he made against a righty, he hit if farther than 10 feet, but against lefties hes staying balanced, hes driving the ball to left field, left-center. That really helps us. When he is hitting in the middle of the order and hes swinging like that against left-handers, thats really going to help us.
He's pretty much locked in pretty good, said Carl Crawford, who hit his first home run at Fenway this season. It's hard to get him out when he's going the other way like that. For us, as a team, we love it because he's been driving in a lot of runs and when a pitcher makes a mistake he's going to hit it out of the park.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen