Friday, April 18, 2008

Game 18: Still Bloody From the Slaughterhouse

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 11, Texas Rangers 3

There are triumphant returns, and then there are triumphant returns. Ortiz's big masher off Luis Mendoza, still reeling (three batters and two walks later) from a snapped streak of eight retired batsmen via the bat of scorching hot Jed Lowrie, had all of the marks of the high, deep, gone super smash as soon as it left the bat, landing in the Monster Seats with a glory made all the more poignant by the delivery of Mr. Clutch after such a long and heart-rending time of hitting misfortune. Wracked with guilt for hoping for the best but expecting the worst when Ortiz came to the plate with two outs and a big inning on the line, I haven't pleaded with a ball to clear the fence that much since J.D. Drew's equally unexpected grand slam last October.

Many runs later, Ortiz returned to the plate in the eighth inning with two men in scoring position. The Sox had broken the score open wide enough to justify confidence of victory, even in the hands of the shaky back end of the bullpen, and normally it would seem to be gluttony to ask for more offensive production. These were not normal times, however: a newly created hot streak was in danger of being stillborn if not feed a steady diet of hits, no matter how ridiculous the score differential. I asked the baseball gods to grant Ortiz another hit.

They were really only too happy to oblige, as Big Papi corked a single to right that scored Casey and Ellsbury. Watch the replays: you'll see the big man's swing and timing are dead on, classic Ortiz, the awkward weight shift and the power drive in place once again. David Ortiz is back, ladies and gentlemen, and he's ready to start destroying the ball again. Everyone else is in big, big trouble.