ST. LOUIS — It’s clear David Ortiz is putting the Red Sox on his back in the 109th edition of the World Series, as the slugger is hitting .727 (8-for-11) with two home runs, five runs scored, five RBIs and five walks going into Monday’s Game 5. But what he did in the dugout prior to Boston’s sixth inning rally in Game 4 might have been just as important.
With the game tied, 1-1, going into the top of the sixth, Ortiz gathered a bunch his teammates in the dugout and fired them up, something you typically see on the sidelines of a football game but not in the dugout of a baseball game.
“It was like 24 kindergartners looking up at their teacher,” left fielder Jonny Gomes said. “He got everyone’s attention and we looked him right in the eyes. That message was pretty powerful.”
After two quick outs in the inning, Dustin Pedroia singled and then the Cardinals walked Ortiz. After a pitching change, Seth Maness came on to face Gomes and after working the count to 2-2, Gomes got a pitch up in the zone and drove it over the left field fence and into the Red Sox bullpen, giving them a 4-1 lead which they eventually held on to for a 4-2 win.
“He called us all together and said, ‘Hey guys, this opportunity doesn’t come around very often. Let’s seize the moment, let’s have fun, let’s be ourselves. Let’s have some fun. Let’s go out there and let’s get after it, let’s play our game.’ And we did that,” said Red Sox catcher David Ross.
Ortiz is the only leftover from the 2004 World Series team and with 17 years of major league experience, as well as 80 playoff games, he knew he needed to be the one to say something.
“I’m one of the guys that have been here the longest,” he said. “I’ve been in this situation before and I know we have a better offensive team than what we’ve showed. When you’re putting pressure on yourself and you’re trying to overdo things, it doesn’t always work … Just one of those speeches that motivate players and brings you to reality.”
The 37-year-old truly takes his game to another level when the stage is at its biggest as in 12 World Series games he is hitting .436, with an on-base percentage of .540 to go along with three home runs and 13 RBIs. Just as important as his bat has been his leadership, exemplified by what transpired Sunday night.
Ross summed it up best, “When David Ortiz speaks, I listen.”
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84