Ortiz home run gives Sox a boost before New York

Ortiz home run gives Sox a boost before New York
April 9, 2014, 10:00 pm
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BOSTON -- David Ortiz has never been one to let his own artistry go underappreciated. On Wednesday night, after he made contact with a Neal Cotts fastball in the bottom of the eighth inning, he stood at home plate. And stood. And watched. And waited.

It wasn't all about soaking in the moment. Although it was Ortiz, after all -- there probably was some of that. But because his blast to the grandstands in right field was so high and so close to Pesky's Pole, there was some question as to whether or not it was fair.

Ortiz, who has been dealing with some calf stiffness early this season, believed the ball was a home run off the bat. But he wanted to be certain it wasn't simply a long strike before he took off running.

The three-run homer gave the Red Sox a 4-2 lead over the Rangers, his 24th career go-ahead home run in the eighth inning or later. Closer Koji Uehara closed out a perfect ninth to make Ortiz's blast was the game-winner.

"I wanted to make sure it was fair," Ortiz said after. "I stood watching watching it. I don't know why I keep on hitting balls down the line like that."

The call was almost immediately challenged by Texas manager Ron Washington, but the ruling was upheld after a 44-second review by crew chief Jerry Meals.

"From our angle, it's extremely difficult to tell," Farrell said. "Jerry Meals makes the fair call on the homer. We felt like it would be inconclusive at best with any kind of replay that was available. We made a call ourselves just to see what the video was showing. Thankfully, once again, David comes up huge for us."

Jackie Bradley Jr. led off the inning with a walk and ended up on third base after an AJ Pierzynski pinch-hit single and a fielder's choice off the bat of Dustin Pedroia. Bradley Jr. had a better view than his manager and thought all along that it looked fair.

Just to be sure he got a better look at it, Bradley Jr. took a cue from Ortiz. He stopped in his tracks halfway down the third base line to get a better look -- and to admire his teammate's handiwork.

"Two words," Bradley said, "that I learned today from some of my Spanish brothers: 'Malo. Hombre.' He's a bad man. He is a bad man. Gosh."

Ortiz has plenty of nicknames in the Red Sox clubhouse. He is sometimes referred to as "Cooperstown," with his knack for the dramatic on display yet again in the series finale with Texas, his legend only grew in the eyes of his teammates.

"He just needs the stage to be set up for him to come to play," Jake Peavy said of Ortiz, who was hitting .250 with one home run and five RBI before Wednesday.

"David's a Hall of Famer. David's as good as anybody that's ever put this uniform on. I will say that hands down. I know there's some great history here, but I can't imagine anybody more clutch when you look at what he did in the postseason, in previous postseasons, what he's done throughout his many years here, and once again today. When he's down and out and he's not seeing the ball the best, and you get typical David Ortiz, just comes through in a big moment for us. I'm glad he's on our side."
Ortiz had been 0-for-5 with five strikeouts and a walk in his career against Cotts. On Tuesday night, in Boston's 10-7 loss, Cotts struck out Ortiz in the bottom of the eighth inning.

"He's a guy that his ball move hard away late," Ortiz said. "Against lefties especially. I had an at-bat the other day -- this is a guy you kind of get to see once in a while, you know? That at-bat I had against him the other night helped me out to make some adjustments today. It worked."

The pitch Ortiz turned on was a fastball -- a challenge. He explained, despite his success and reputation, it doesn't surprise him anymore when pitchers try to sneak one by him.

"No," he said smiling. "I'm old man. [I] try to take some benefit from that."

The 38-year-old's home run could not have come at a better time for the Red Sox, who were in danger of leaving for a series in New York having lost five of six games at home.

With his latest heroics, Ortiz gave his team a shot of life.

"Huge hit," Farrell said. "Hopefully this gives us a little momentum, finishing out a series win here. We're going on a long road trip, hopefully this is a jump start for us. So many times has he bailed us out. No different today."

Like many of his teammates, Ortiz hasn't been at his best in the early going. He hoped his latest performance might have the dual effect of getting both he and his team going as they move further from spring training and delve deeper into their regular-season schedule.

"I'm the kind of hitter that I believe one at-bat good or bad, it gets your momentum going. Especially when things are not going that well," he said. "It's early in the season you know? We've only played what eight, nine games? We got a long way to go."

What's the harm in stopping to appreciate a few of the moments along the way?