David Ortiz was 0 for 8 against Phil Coke with three strikeouts. Jim Leyland knew exactly what he was doing when he walked Kevin Youkilis to load the bases to get to Ortiz in the ninth inning today.
Coke threw Ortiz a slider that David squared to bunt then pulled back. Ball one. Then Coke missed with another slider. Ball two.
How big is that? Going into today’s game, Ortiz had a 1.121 OPS when was ahead in the count, .500 when he falls behind. Once he gets to 2-0, he’s a .417 hitter.
Ortiz fouled off a 2-0 fastball on the outside corner. Coke, still down in the count, came with another fastball and Ortiz mashed it to the gap in left. The first two runs scored easily. Youkilis, who is an excellent base-runner, had taken a good secondary lead, hit the corners well on his turns and scored well before the throw.
“I thought I could score. Once I saw it in the gap, I knew I had a pretty good chance of scoring,” Youkilis said. “I knew I was going to score.”
Ortiz got to second base and started pumping his fists like Rocky Balboa, then raised them to the sky. It looked like he was trying to pull the crowd into the moment. Tony Robbins has never been more inspirational than Ortiz was at that moment if you’re a Red Sox fab.
“Long day,” manager Terry Francona said, “but it ended up being a good one.”
There are approximately 14 million people in New England who are fairly well convinced they could do a better job of running the Red Sox than Theo Epstein and will rip him or not making a trade today. But dealing off a Casey Kelly or Jose Iglesias to try and bolster a team that is closer to fourth place than it is to second is organizational suicide.
The Red Sox have to rely on each other to get in contention. They are 5.5 games out of a playoff spot with 58 games left. Not easy, but not impossible.
Days like today will help. This team has plenty of flaws, but lack of desire is not among them.
In other news:
* Jacoby Ellsbury was 2 for 4 with a run scored for Pawtucket. In a crazy coincidence, yesterday was Jacoby Ellsbury bobblehead day at McCoy Stadium. Teams plan those promotions during the winter. So obviously the PawSox had no idea Jacoby would be there. Pretty cool.
* Ortiz has had a weird last nine games. He is 12 of 39 with nine RBIs but also has struck out 16 times.
* Terry Francona laid some big praise on Ryan Kalish today. “I think it’s a pretty big compliment to him that we feel like he can come up right smack in the middle of our season and give us a boost,” he said. “It’s almost like Trot Nixon came. He looks like him, he plays like him. He’s going to be fun to watch grow into a really good player.”
Trot Nixon? That’s big props in these parts.
* There was a postgame meeting with Mike Lowell that involved Francona and Epstein. All indications are they’re planning to release him or figure out some other way to keep him off the roster. For now, he remains in limbo.
* Justin Verlander against Clay Buchholz tomorrow. Should be a fun game.
Thank to everybody for reading today. It’s cool that we had nearly 500 comments on a Saturday. This is your blog and we’re happy you’re participating.
Thanks also to Nick Cafardo for adding so many posts during the trade deadline.