McAdam: Ortiz failing in the clutch would be more surprising at this point

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McAdam: Ortiz failing in the clutch would be more surprising at this point

BOSTON -- David Ortiz has spent his entire Red Sox career supplying dramatic moments. As he begins the final weekend of his last season, there are no apparent plans to change.

Why, after all, would you mess with success?

Ortiz supplied another booster shot for Fenway Park, lining a laser shot down the right field line for a tie-breaking, two-run homer in the Red Sox' 5-3 comeback win over Toronto.

"You expect it,'' marveled Dustin Pedroia, who has been Ortiz's teammate in Boston longer than any other current Red Sox player. "It's (strange) to say because it's so tough to do. But he makes it look easy.''

Ortiz has set such a ridiculously high standard that the shock happens when he doesn't come through, rather than when he does.

You expect it.

Like Tuesday night in New York, when Ortiz came to the plate in the ninth inning, with the Red Sox trailing by two and two runners on base. The expectation was that, of course Ortiz was going to belt a three-run homer to 1) beat the Yankees and 2) secure the division title.

When he didn't, when he went down swinging, it was, however unfairly, a letdown.

That's how good he is. That's how often he's come through in such situations.

Anything less than heroics is somehow a failing.

"I don't know that you could write a script any better than what David did tonight offensively,'' said John Farrell. "He turned this place upside down, given (where we were in) the game and what was needed. Almost a storybook night for David.''

Another in a long series.

What gets lost in the drama and clutch nature of his at-bats is the smarts he utilizes.

Ortiz was facing lefty Brett Cecil, whom Toronto manager John Gibbons had summoned expressly for Ortiz, who had limited Ortiz to a .194 (6-for-31) batting average in his career, including 10 strikeouts.

The two faced each other earlier this month in Toronto, and Ortiz, as he frequently does, was taking notes.

"I kept track of my at-bat with him,'' said Ortiz. "Last time I faced him, he started me off breaking ball, breaking ball, then finished me off hard. Cecil has that god breaking ball, and his fastball is 94 mph, so you can't pick both. You've got to give him something.''

Ortiz "gave'' Cecil the curveball, and got three in a row. But when Cecil fell behind 2-and-1, he had to throw a fastball and Ortiz was ready.

Two games remain in his last season and Ortiz has 38 homers. What, he was asked, would he think of hitting 40 homers in his age 40 season?

"Forty-forty-forty,'' chuckled Ortiz. "What can I tell you? It's a pretty good season. If it happens, it happens. And it's all gravy.''

Don't put it past him. The guy has a habit of doing remarkable things that you somehow expected him to do.

First impressions: Ortiz moves past pregame ceremonies, hits game winner for Sox

red-sox-david-ortiz.jpg

First impressions: Ortiz moves past pregame ceremonies, hits game winner for Sox

BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-3 win over Toronto:

* What's left to say about David Ortiz?

Ortiz acknowledged before Friday's game that the pre-game ceremonies and the attendant fuss over his pending retirement have created a challenge for him. Sometimes, it's hard to go from being feted to trying to win a game.

Not that you would know it by Friday night.

In his first at-bat, he singled home the first run of the game. Two at-bats later, he lined a bullet that was right at Jose Bautista.

But he saved his best for the seventh when, after the Red Sox tied the game at 3-3, Ortiz promptly untied it with a laser down the line, landing in the right field seats.

One more clutch hit from Ortiz in a career full of them.

* Brock Holt's defense at third has stood out.

John Farrell is looking for someone to step up with the third base job, given that Travis Shaw is hitting under .200 since the All-Star break and Aaron Hill has had difficulty hitting righties.

Holt, meanwhile, has seized the job somewhat by default, with a .319 average in the last 24 games.

But since starting the last four games at third, Holt has also contributed with his glove.

On Friday night, Holt made a fine stop with his backhand, on the third base line, and fired to nail Devon Travis on a close play at first.

Later, he came on a slow roller to gun down Josh Donaldson out at first.

* The Red Sox have done a better job of late capitalizing on opponents' mistakes.

Last week in Baltimore, the Red Sox were handed a gift by the Orioles when a throwing error by Chris Davis resulted in five runs being scored -- all of them unearned. It took exactly two pitches for the Red Sox to pounce on the opportunity.

On Friday night, it happened again.

Trailing 3-1, the Red Sox used a throwing error by Russell Martin to score one run and put another runner in scoring position. A groundout and single by Mookie Betts tied things, and Ortiz's homer broke the tie and gave the Red Sox a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Good teams take advantage of mistakes. Two of the last six Red Sox wins are prime examples of that maxim.