When you stick to the plan and it’s a winning formula, you can’t go wrong. Boston always seemed to know this and St. Louis is quickly finding out.
Solving Big Papi and the Red Sox is easy. It’s not The Riddle of the Sphinx. You know a winning performance usually includes 7 2/3 innings of one-run, seven-K ball pitched by one of Boston’s golden arms. Last night it was lefty Jon Lester. And some clutch production by “Mr. Fall, ” like the RBI double he had in the first inning that put the Red Sox ahead, en route to a 3-1 victory in Game 5 of the World Series.
Boston can win its third title in a decade on Wednesday night, when Game 6 pops off at Fenway Park -- where the Red Sox haven't won a championship since 1918.
This is another opportunity for Big Papi to do some history rearranging. He’s as addicted to that mission, like 50 Cent is to getting money. Game 5's performance was the typical Boston blueprint for success. If skipper John Farrell's squadron stays true to form, look for Big Papi to deliver the first or final blow. depending on the circumstances.
His late daggers come when Boston is buried in self doubt (see two-homer game against David Price in Game 2 of ALDS and eighth-inning grand slam in Game 2 of ALCS against the Tigers). His early blows come when he smells blood (See Game 7, first-inning homer 2004 ALCS against Yankees) The big, burly slugger has a sprinter’s nose for the finish line.
Boston had its backs against the wall throughout this series. St. Louis could just as easily be up 2 games. But when Napoli hit that homer in Game 4, the momentum was all BoSox. It’s a script we’ve seen before. With the series knotted at 2-2 , Game 5 became the most important game of the WS. Boston took it and now the odds are squarely in their favor. For one, it’s hard to beat the Bean Town bashers under the lights of the Green Monster. History also says in the 42 previous times the Series has been tied 2-2, the Game 5 winner has gone on to take the title 27 times.
At the end of the day, it was child’s play for Big Papi, who has literally turned the World Series into his personal video game. His performance has been so emphatic that discussing all-time playoff performers is becoming a non-argument.
Peep these sick numbers:
Ortiz is batting .733 (11 for 15) in the Series with two homers and six RBIs. His six hits in six straight at-bats were one shy of the record, set by the New York Yankees' Thurman Munson (1976-77) and matched by Cincinnati's Billy Hatcher (1990). With three walks added in, Ortiz tied the record for most consecutive plate appearances reaching by a hit, walk or hit batter, set by Hatcher.
He’s not just mashing at Fenway. Papi is home-schooling the Cardinals too, especially second-year baby Mike Matheny, who should be committed for continuing to pitch to this guy.
Ortiz has killed the game. This WS is dead like Harlem when Alpo shot Rich Porter. I don’t see the Red Sox allowing St. Louis to win two games in a row.
One of the most important consequences of Papi’s latest October masterpiece is the slowly changing perception about designated hitters. DH’s have been disrespected and denounced in the past by Hall of Fame voters. Bashers like Edgar Martinez have been denied entrance into baseball’s VIP section because their impact was mostly on the offensive end. Somewhere in baseball’s out-date philosophies, you are a quasi-player if you don’t flash leather.
Papi Ortiz has revolutionized and glamorized the DH position. No longer is it a batting spot for washed up, high-priced vets with some pop. It’s a legit position that allowed the greatest postseason hitter of all-time, to stay in the game long enough to put an end to the foolish theory that DH’s can’t be HOFers.