Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Boston's Big Papi keys the big rally

BOSTON — David Ortiz smacked hands with Carl Crawford by the batting cage Thursday and glowered down at him.

"How can you get five hits in one game?" he bellowed, referring to the leftfielder's Game 4 output for the Rays.

"Big Papi" turned to Rays catcher Dioner Navarro, held up one finger, then burst into laughter. "I'm fighting for one (expletive)."

He got one later Thursday night. A big one. Ortiz's booming three-run homer off reliever Grant Balfour powered a four-run inning and ignited a comeback that brought the Red Sox back from a seven-run seventh-inning deficit to an 8-7 victory in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series. It might have brought them back in the ALCS, as the best-of seven series shifts to Tampa Bay. Boston still trails three games to two.

Rays manager Joe Maddon saw it all coming before the game, even though the slugger had one hit the entire series. Maddon said before the game there was no "huge different schematic" to pitching against Ortiz, who is a career .304 hitter with 34 home runs against the Rays in the regular season.

"We're just lucky," Maddon said. "We're pitching as we think is the right way to go about it, but I don't take anything for granted.

"You don't want to let your guard down. … But this guy, he can do anything on any given night, and I don't trust him in that regard because he's that good."

Ortiz is not questioned in the defending world champions' clubhouse. His performance since coming to the Red Sox as a free agent in 2003 has earned him that sway.

So has affability and his imposing nature when a topic suddenly displeases him. The topic of his left wrist and the damaged sheath tendon that caused him to miss 45 games this season, that subject displeases him.

The 32-year-old is often the inner voice of the locker room. It was Ortiz who suggested after Boston's Game 1 win at Tropicana Field that the Rays were starstruck in their first playoff game. It was Ortiz who admitted after the Rays' Game 2 win that they were playing with the same abandon that had allowed them to take the East title from Boston.

But when asked repeatedly about the condition of his wrist after batting .071 in the ALCS and .161 in the playoffs with no home runs and one RBI, Ortiz has refused to answer "the same old questions."

The oldest but most germane being his wrist.

"I'm okay," he said.

Manager Terry Francona has said only that he doesn't "know if he's perfect," adding it made no sense to sit him because Ortiz can change the tone of a game and a series with one swing.

Apparently he saw it coming, too.

Boston's Big Papi keys the big rally 10/16/08 [Last modified: Friday, October 17, 2008 6:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. College World Series: Gators, LSU face off in all-SEC finals

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — The matchup for the College World Series finals bolsters the case for those who say the best baseball in the land is played in the SEC.

    Florida’s Brady Singer, delivering during a CWS win over Louisville last week, is scheduled to start tonight against LSU.
  2. Jones: Fox Sports Sun shows depth in Rays coverage

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) makes a run home for a score in the in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
  3. Brian Boyle says returning to Lightning a 'huge option'

    Blogs

    As former Lightning forward Brian Boyle approaches free agency this week, he said he's trying to stay busy.

    Former Tampa Bay Lightning player center Brian Boyle (24), on the ice during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa on March 16, 2017.
  4. Rays journal: Blake Snell to rejoin rotation, Erasmo Ramirez heads to bullpen

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Blake Snell is rejoining the Rays' rotation, but the move has as much to do with helping the bullpen as it does with Snell's improvement during his time at Triple-A Durham.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (30) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  5. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.