ANAHEIM, Calif. — Star players aren’t usually good pinch hitters for a simple reason: they don’t get much practice at it.
David Ortiz was 15 of 85 (.176) as a pinch hitter in his career when Red Sox manager John Farrell sent him to the plate in the eighth inning — 4 for 32 in the last 10 years.
Ortiz took a strike from Dane De La Rosa then lined a home run over the fence in right field to give the Sox a 5-2 lead in a game they went on to win, 6-2.
It was Ortiz’s first pinch-hit homer since May 29, 2011 in Detroit and the fifth of his career.
“Swing and hit it. I got lucky,” Ortiz said.
Farrell has been adept at picking his spots this season. Red Sox pinch hitters are 12 of 40 (.300) with eight extra-base hits (5 HRs) and 11 RBIs. Of course, having Ortiz available makes it an easy call.
“It’s a luxury to have that guy available to you to come off the bench and do what he does,” Farrell said.
The surprise was that the Angels pitched to Ortiz. Daniel Nava had just doubled and first base was open. When Ortiz replaced Brandon Snyder, walking him seemed preferable. But Mike Scioscia took a chance and it cost him.
Ortiz now has 418 career home runs.
“Just another homer,” he said “I’m used to it. Are you? Enjoy it. This ain’t forever.”
Ortiz, by the way, was wearing a black t-shirt with No. 21 on the back and “retire RC.” It was for Roberto Clemente. Many Latin American players would like to see baseball retire 21 for Clemente as 42 was for Jackie Robinson.
• If Mike Napoli starts swinging the bat well again, look back on his home run in the ninth inning. He hit a 95-mph fastball from Michael Kohn halfway up the grassy hill in center field. It was a 440-foot shot.
It was Napoli’s first home run since June 1.
“The thing is getting my foot down. It’s a timing thing,” Napoli said. “If I’m short to the ball and on time … When I’m late, my swing might look long because I’m trying to rush to get to the ball. I’m working on my leg kick and being on time with the pitcher.”
Sometimes one good swing can get a hitter going.
“It’s something I can build off of,” Napoli said. “I’m just going at-bat to at-bat. Trying to grind out at-bats and feel good in the box with my timing and seeing the ball. If my foot is down and my hands are in a certain position where I can fire and not be rushed, I’m a better hitter.”
• Two runners (Daniel Nava and Shane Victorino) scored from first base on two-out errors made in the outfield. The Red Sox have run into a few outs in recent games. But running aggressively paid off tonight.
• The Sox have won five straight and nine of 10.
• Jacoby Ellsbury has hit safely in 15 straight games at 26 of 64 (.406).
• Jonny Gomes is 8 of his last 18, raising his batting average from .211 to .238.
• The Sox have at least one double in 21 consecutive games. Their 198 doubles leads the majors.
• Angels pitcher Jered Weaver and his wife Kristen had their first child on Friday, a healthy son they named Aden after Nick Adenhart, the Angels pitcher who was killed by a drunk driver four years ago.
Weaver and Adenhart were close friends.