After the Red Sox offense fell silent for the second straight night at Angels Stadium and lost 4-1 to fall behind 2-0 in the ALDS, Ortiz offered four words of advice on how to awaken slumbering bats.
"Hit the damn ball," Ortiz said. "What else?"
Simple concept. Difficult execution. After John Lackey fired a four-hitter over 7 1/3 innings in Thursday’s 5-0 victory, Jered Weaver was slightly better on Friday night, allowing one run on two hits over the same 7 1/3 innings to put the Red Sox on the brink of extinction.
The Red Sox have just one run on eight hits over the first two games of this series for a team batting average of .133. Throw in the 3-1 loss to the Rays in Game 7 of the ALCS last October, and the Red Sox have scored two runs over their past three postseason games.
Jacoby Ellsbury went 2-for-4 Friday, hitting a leadoff triple in the fourth and scoring on a Victor Martinez single. But after Martinez drove in the Red Sox’ only run of the series, Weaver, who had an 0.66 ERA in two regular-season starts against the Red Sox, did not allow another hit, walking just two of the final 14 batters he faced. He remained locked in a 1-1 tie with Beckett until the Angels broke the game open with three runs in the seventh.
"These guys were matching each other, pitch for pitch," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "Ellsbury got it going with the triple, putting them in a good scoring opportunity, and Martinez put them ahead with the base hit. I thought we did a really good job of staying focused, settling down.
"They didn’t bunch too many hits together. I think that’s a tribute to the way Jered pitched tonight. That’s a terrific offensive club over there. If you miss your spots, they’ll let you know. We matched Beckett pitch for pitch and broke through late in the ballgame."
The fourth inning stands as the only frame of the ALDS in which the Red Sox had more than one hit. Ellsbury, who added a single in the eighth, is the only Red Sox player with more than one hit. Ortiz, who ended the regular season strong, is 0-for-8 with four strikeouts. Mike Lowell, who came to the plate as the tying run with two outs in the ninth and flew out to center, is 0-for-7.
"We’ve had a tough time these last two games swinging the bat," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "That’s an understatement. [Weaver] throws across his body with deception. He executed his pitches, and we looked like we started trying to pull a little bit too much. We didn’t square up a lot of balls.
"If you do try to pull the ball, you get yourself in trouble. That’s a lot easier said than done. He was pretty effective. He located everything. He executed his game plan pretty well."
If the Red Sox had any kind of edge in this short series, it was with its top two starters, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett. And though both pitched well enough to win most nights, their efforts weren't nearly enough with an anemic offense backing them up.
"One of our strengths the last 50 games is our rotation really got settled," Scioscia said. "We pitched with a lot of great pitchers in our league and came away with some wins. I can’t say enough about what John did [Thursday] night, what Jered did [Friday night], how important it is for our team to match up with some pretty good pitching. You have to pitch with them. That’s the only way you’re going to have a chance to win."