David Ortiz and Koji Uehara were an unstoppable tag team this October
It’s easy to link David Ortiz (World Series MVP) and Koji Uehara (seven saves in the postseason) since they are the senior members of Boston’s world championship roster. Uehara is 38, Ortiz is 37. It became a familiar sight after nearly all of Boston’s wins in October to see the jovial slugger pick up the slight closer. In many ways, their individual results mirror those of an overachieving team that knocked off three well-respected teams: Tampa Bay in the ALDS, Detroit in the ALCS and St. Louis in the World Series.
Ortiz’s playoff exploits were already legendary before 2013, but he has truly built himself into a legitimate Hall of Fame nominee this year, going 11-for-16 (.688!) with seven runs, two doubles, two home runs, six RBIs, eight walks and 19 total bases in the Fall Classic. He was so hot that his lone strike out in the series (in clinching Game 6) seemed shocking. Ortiz’s postseason resume is so overflowing now that he can legitimately be compared to Tom Brady or Larry Bird in terms of Boston sports playoff icons of the past 30 years.
Then there is Uehara. One couldn’t ask for a more fitting way for the Red Sox to close out the Cardinals than how it actually happened: with a strikeout by Koji. No one exceeded expectations more than him all season long for Boston. He was an anonymous signing over the winter that only became closer after Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey (higher priced, experienced closers) both struggled and went on the DL with season-ending injuries. Time will tell if Uehara’s 2013 was just a flash in the pan, but does it really matter? In 13 postseason appearances (out of 16 games) his numbers, much like Ortiz’s in the World Series, were otherworldly: 0.66 ERA, 0.51 WHIP, 16 strikeouts and 0 walks. His only real slipup of the playoffs was allowing a walk-off homer to Jose Lobaton, of all people, in Game 3 vs. Tampa Bay. True to form, he bounced back the next night with a four-out save to knock out the Rays and propel the Red Sox to the ALCS.
Many aspects of the 2013 Red Sox won’t soon be forgotten, but Ortiz and Uehara left impressions that local fans will likely look back on fondly for the rest of their lives.
Follow Metro Boston sports writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate