David Ortiz swung the Boston Red Sox away from a 10-game losing streak and toward a seven-game winning streak with a clutch home run on Memorial Day against the Atlanta Braves. The Red Sox certainly hope Ortiz’s game-winning blast Sunday against the Detroit Tigers generates similar results.
Ortiz crushed a three-run homer off Tigers reliever Joba Chamberlain with one out in the ninth inning Sunday to propel the Red Sox to a 5-3 win at Comerica Park. Boston was on the verge of suffering its sixth straight loss until Ortiz came through.
“It feels good, especially now with the situation, the way we’ve played,” Ortiz said after the game. “We haven’t been able to win a ballgame and we’ve been struggling, and to put us ahead in that situation is pretty cool.”
The Red Sox entered the ninth inning trailing 3-2. Brock Holt led off with a single and Dustin Pedroia worked a seven-pitch walk with one out to set the stage for Ortiz’s heroics. Ortiz sat on a 1-1 slider and launched a no-doubter into the right field seats.
“The thing that we continually talk about here is not trying to do too much with an individual guy, trying to be the guy and expand the zone or get too big with the swing,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Detroit. “We just have to continue to stay with the grinding approach we have at the plate and trust the guy behind the individual in the lineup to build an inning.”
Sunday’s home run marked Ortiz’s 16th career game-deciding home run in the ninth inning or later. It was the fifth time Ortiz hit a homer to turn a deficit into a lead in the ninth inning or later — the most in Major League Baseball since the start of 2003. In other words, it was nothing new for the 38-year-old, who continues to thrive when Boston needs him most.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that Ortiz’s home run and the Red Sox’s dramatic victory over the Tigers will suddenly turn Boston’s season around. The Sox still are six games below .500 and nine games out in the American League East, and sandwiching promising winning streaks with disappointing losing streaks isn’t exactly a recipe for long-term success.
But given that the Red Sox were two outs away from being victimized by the same recurring theme that’s plagued them all year — an inability to produce in key spots — it’s hard not to feel somewhat encouraged by Ortiz’s fireworks, especially since the home run could signify the beginning of a breakout for Boston’s most important slugger.
“The guys are giving good effort,” Ortiz said. “There’s a reason why we were playing so many extra-inning games already. We don’t give in. We keep on fighting.”
Ortiz has two home runs in his last four games, and he’s driven in at least two runs in three of those four tilts. The return of Mike Napoli, who reached base four times in Sunday’s win, should only help Ortiz and the Red Sox’s offense, which finally showed a little 2013-type flair for the dramatic before leaving the Motor City.