Ortiz swinging back at his critics

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Ortiz swinging back at his critics

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

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

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 7, White Sox 3

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Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 7, White Sox 3

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 7-3 win over the White Sox:

QUOTES

* "Where five days ago, he was able to harness things and command the baseball a little better, tonight that was not the case.'' - John Farrell on Henry Owens.

* "That was a momentum shift for us.'' - Farrell on the inning-ending double play that ended the fifth, with Mookie Betts throwing out Brett Lowrie at the plate.

* "They've done outstanding work, when our backs have been against the wall with some early exits by starters.'' Farrell on the bullpen contributions.

* "It's disappointing, (after) working hard on my mechanics the last five days.'' - Owens on his command struggles.

* "It's good to win a series, for sure, against this team.'' - Xander Bogaerts on the win.

NOTES

* Seven different Red Sox hitters produced an RBI.

* The Red Sox are 9-2 in their last 11 and 11-4 in their last 15.

* Hanley Ramirez, who homered for the second time in his last two games, has nine RBI in his last nine games.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 11 straight games.

* The Sox became the first team to beat the White Sox two games in a row at home.

STARS

1) Matt Barnes

Barnes picked up the win in relief, contributing five big outs in the middle innings and stabilizing the game for the Red Sox bullpen.

2) Dustin Pedroia

After going hitless Wednesday night in the cleanup spot, Pedroia was back in the No. 2 hole and got the Sox off on the right foot with a solo homer in the top of the first. He later added two more hits.

3) Hanley Ramirez

Returning from a one-game absence, Ramirez belted his second homer in as many games and also worked two walks, a good sign for someone who not long ago was too often expanding the strike zone.

First impressions: Red Sox bullpen picks up the slack in 7-3 win

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First impressions: Red Sox bullpen picks up the slack in 7-3 win

CHICAGO -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 7-3 win over the White Sox:

* Henry Owens doesn't throw enough strikes to remain in the rotation.

Owens's time was coming to an end anyway, what with the imminent return of Eduardo Rodriguez.

But Owens may have pitched his way out of another start with his outing Thursday night. He faced 16 hitters and walked six hitters.

In every inning he began, he allowed the leadoff hitter to reach. This, despite his teammates scoring runs for him in every previous half inning.

* For a team without a lot of homers, the Red Sox hit their share Thursday night.

The Sox came into the game tied for 11th in homers in the American League, then hit three in the first six innings.

Each one of the homers -- by Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez and Jackie Bradley - came with the bases empty, but together, they helped the Red Sox hold off the White Sox.

Ramirez's homer was particularly encouraging, since it was his second in the last three nights, and like the one he hit on Tuesday, was hit to the opposite field.

* The bullpen picked up a lot of slack.

When the Henry Owens Walkfest mercifully ended in the fourth inning, the Red Sox still had 18 outs to get.

Heath Hembree stumbled some, allowing a run on five hits -- the first run he's allowed this season -- but Matt Barnes, Junichi Tazawa, Robbie Ross. Jr took it from there, chipping in for the final 4 1/3 innings, all scoreless.

Thus far this season, the Red Sox have won four games in which their starter failed to get to the fifth inning. Some of that is a tribute to the offense, which has rallied a few times to make up early deficits.

But it's also due in part to the bullpen, which has provided quality relief and bought time for the offense to catch up.

* The Sox continue to play well on the road.

Through the first four road series, the Red Sox are 4-0-1, having done no worse than a split in their road sets to date.

Learning to win on the road now can be a useful trait for this team in the second half, when the schedule has them playing far more games away from home in the final two and a half months of the season.

* Boston had a balanced offensive attack.

Every member of the starting lineup except one Thursday had either an extra-base hit or a sacrifice fly. Leadoff hitter Mookie Betts, who continues to run hot and cold, was the only starter without one or the other, though he did have a single, walk twice and score a run.

In all, seven different players recorded one RBI.