NEW YORK — Neither David Ortiz nor Dustin Pedroia lacks confidence. When adversity strikes, the Boston Red Sox’s franchise cornerstones typically shrug it off, push forward and insist everything is going to be alright.
This season, while tumultuous, hasn’t been any different in that regard, as Ortiz has maintained his usual swagger and Pedroia has vowed on several occasions to heat up. The two took a big step toward shouldering the load Sunday while leading the Red Sox to an 8-5 win over the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
“If you’re going to be good, your good guys got to be good,” said John Lackey, who earned his ninth win of the season Sunday. “To get to where we want to get, those guys are going to have to drive the bus, for sure. You can put whatever parts you want around those guys and you need the parts to do well, too, but they’re kind of the engine that runs this thing.”
Ortiz killed a first-inning threat by grounding into an inning-ending double play. He more than made up for it two innings later by crushing a three-run homer — the 450th home run of his career — into the right field seats to give the Red Sox a 4-0 lead.
The third-inning homer was Ortiz’s only hit of the ballgame, but the blast put the wheels in motion on a solid offensive effort.
“They’re part of the middle of the order, and if we’re setting the table with other guys getting on base, that’s certainly going to lengthen things out,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “But (Ortiz and Pedroia) have carried their weight for a long, long time, and they’ve got very strong track records and before this season’s out, I think we’ll look up and their numbers will be right in line with their career.”
Pedroia, who collected three hits in the Red Sox’s 2-1 win on Saturday, produced three more knocks and reached base four times in Sunday’s victory. It was an encouraging sign for the four-time All-Star — whose 0-for-4 effort in Friday’s series opener lowered his average to .262 and his on-base percentage to .334 — and it could be an indication that a trademark tear is on the horizon.
“Nobody in this clubhouse is worried about those two guys,” Lackey said of the Ortiz-Pedroia tandem. “They’re pros, they put up numbers year after year. When you’ve done it so many years in a row, your numbers usually end up where they’re supposed to be in the end.”
Much has been made about what the Red Sox need to add, change or consider amid their season-long struggles. The reality of the situation, however, is that Ortiz and Pedroia elevating their respective games could be the determining factor in whether Boston can climb out of the hole it created for itself in the American League East.