The Boston Red Sox were desperate for a win Monday afternoon against the Atlanta Braves, and as he has done so many times over the last decade, David Ortiz led his team to victory with a couple of clutch at-bats.
Ortiz collected a game-high four RBI, scored a run and drew a walk in one of his better performances of the season.
With the Sox trailing 6-3 in the fifth inning, Ortiz launched a three-run homer to left-center field to tie the score. The blast moved Ortiz up to 39th on the all-time home run list, passing former Oakland Athletics star infielder Dave Kingman.
After a lengthy rain delay, Big Papi hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the seventh inning to give the Red Sox a 7-6 lead. Boston tacked on another run in the seventh for an 8-6 advantage and held on for the victory, which ended the team’s season-high 10-game losing streak.
“Every at-bat I take I go in with one idea: making things happen,” Ortiz told WEEI after the Red Sox win. “Like I said, I know I’ve been a little off this past week, but I feel like my swing is right there.”
Ortiz has struggled at the plate recently and the Sox are hoping that Monday’s stellar performance is a sign that the 38-year-old designated hitter is heating up. He entered Monday’s game with one hit in his last seven games and zero RBIs in his last 10 games. With veteran first baseman Mike Napoli and right fielder Shane Victorino on the disabled list with injuries, Boston needs Ortiz to get on base consistently.
The Red Sox offense, which ranks 19th in runs scored, 24th in batting average and 22nd in slugging percentage, hadn’t been giving the struggling pitching staff enough support during the majority of the 10-game losing streak. But over the last three games, Boston’s lineup has awoken with 18 runs and 23 hits.
Ortiz wasn’t the only bright spot in the Red Sox offense on Monday. Dustin Pedroia tallied one hit, two RBIs, two walks and a run. He extended his hit streak to three games and his two-RBI single in the fifth inning started a five-run rally that helped Boston tie the game. Rookie shortstop Xander Bogaerts scored two runs and drew two walks. The 21-year-old has tallied three runs and four hits in his last three games, and seems to be getting more comfortable at the plate.
A major part of the Red Sox’s offensive success last season was their plate discipline. They drove up pitch counts by being patient at the plate — not swinging at bad pitches — taking advantage of pitcher’s mistakes. The Sox have gotten back to this approach on a more consistent basis over the last three games. They have drawn 14 walks in that span with nearly 40 baserunners and a .300 batting average with runners in scoring position.
Boston’s pitching remains a concern after Monday’s victory. Clay Buchholz struggled again and gave up six earned runs and eight walks in just three innings pitched. He earned a no-decision, and the Red Sox have lost three of the last four games he’s started.
On the bright side for John Farrell’s ball club, the offense is starting to heat up, even without a few important hitters at the top of the order. That’s an encouraging sign heading into a two-week stretch where Boston plays several quality opponents.