Lethal combination has been locked in
If you think you're watching something historic in what David Ortiz and Manny Ramírez are accomplishing this October, you are.
Research by the Elias Sports Bureau determined that Ortiz and Ramírez, who both got on base five times apiece in Friday night's 10-3 win over the Cleveland Indians, were the first pair of teammates with at least five plate appearances in a game to reach base in every appearance.
Through the first four games of the postseason, the two have combined to reach base in 29 of 36 plate appearances. That computes to an .805 on-base percentage.Ortiz and Ramírez each went 1 for 4 last night.
Ortiz has reached base 16 of 18 plate appearances in this postseason with seven hits, eight walks, and a hit by pitch. In the team's final homestand of the regular season, a five-game stretch, Ortiz was on base in 16 of 22 plate appearances with 11 hits and five walks. Thus, in his last nine games, Big Papi has been on base 32 times in 40 appearances, an .800 on-base percentage.
Ramírez, meanwhile, has been on base in 13 of his 18 plate appearances in the postseason, with five hits and eight walks. He came into last night's game having reached base in 11 of his last 12 plate appearances.
"I know what they're doing certainly can't last a full year," Sox manager Terry Francona said, "but hopefully it can be sustainable through a nice little playoff run.
"They're taking their walks, keeping the lineup moving, trusting the other guys in the order. It makes them very, very dangerous. I think I'm probably understating it."
Change of pace
Sox pitching coach John Farrell noted the work Curt Schilling put into adding a changeup to his repertoire this season.
"I remember lot of conversations about his changeup in spring training," Farrell said. "It was like, 'Are you kidding me? This is a high school changeup.' You know what? At the time it was, but he never backed away from it, never. He continually worked to improve it. Now it's a pitch he'll get a couple, three outs in a game on it. That's another inning. That might be the difference between a win or a loss in the seventh or eighth inning with him. It was a matter of consistency, sticking with it.
"We went back and forth to make sure the point was clear, that 88 [miles per hour] was good enough, but he had to be relentless and locate it. He can't have those mental lapses where he says, 'I can blow you away.' His mental focus and concentration have to remain at a higher level more consistently."
Jhonny Peralta's three-run home run was the sixth three-run job allowed by Schilling this season.
The five players who got him in the regular season were Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Brad Hawpe, Brian McCann, and Derek Jeter. In only one other season has Schilling allowed more than three three-run home runs. That was in 2002, when he gave up four, plus a grand slam. He gave up one in 2006, none in 2005, and a grand slam in 2004.
Indians scouting director John Mirabelli, then the scouting director for the Tigers, remembers scouting Josh Beckett when Beckett was a Texas high school pitcher in the spring of 1999.
"He's the best high school pitcher I've ever seen," Mirabelli told the Willoughby (Ohio) News Herald. "You could see it then. He had everything. He threw 97 [miles per hour] in high school, and supposedly was throwing 87 when he was 13 years old.
"Threw no-hitters all over the place in high school. There were about 40 scouts at his first game [his senior year], but then after it became apparent he was going to be one of the first players taken, the scouts stopped coming because they knew they had no chance for him."
Tampa Bay had the first pick that year and took outfielder Josh Hamilton. Florida took Beckett with the second pick, and Detroit, Mirabelli's team, took Eric Munson with the third pick.
"Hamilton and Beckett were the two who were way above everyone else in that draft," said Mirabelli. "After those two, then there was everyone else."
The 10 runs the Sox scored in Game 1 of the ALCS represented just the sixth time since 1969 (74 League Championship Series) that a team has scored in double digits in the opening game of a series. Of the five previous occasions, the team scoring 10 or more runs won the series. The one exception: the 2004 Yankees, who beat the Sox, 10-7, in Game 1 in Yankee Stadium, then lost in seven . . . James Taylor did the lineups for the Sox, and there are rumblings that he'll be on tap for the national anthem in Game 1 of the World Series if the Sox advance. Taylor was there with his wife, Kim, and their twin boys. Sox chairman Tom Werner took them inside the Green Monster during batting practice . . . Seven-year-old Jordan Leandre, the longtime Jimmy Fund patient whose circuit around the bases after he sang the anthem was one of the most inspiring sights of this or any season, sang the Star Spangled Banner again last night . . . Baseball commissioner Bud Selig was in the house . . . Globe football writer Mike Reiss passes along word that Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie was in attendance as a guest of Mike Dee, chief operating officer for the Sox. He also attended Game 1. A diehard Sox fan, Lurie made sure he could attend both games before traveling to New York for the Eagles' game against the Jets today.
Gordon Edes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.