|With Irene almost in attendance, the destructive force of David Ortiz continued on Saturday||08.28.11 at 12:24 am ET|
Move over, Irene. You may not be the only powerful force in town this weekend. Not if David Ortiz and his bat have anything to say about it.
With the rain pouring as Hurricane Irene began to make her presence known in the New England region, Ortiz went a combined 5-for-8 Saturday in a doubleheader sweep of the Athletics at Fenway Park. Among those five hits were a two-run home run that produced half the scoring of the 4-0 Game 2 win for the Sox as well as two doubles in the first contest, another Sox win this time by a 9-3 margin.
Thanks to his Saturday performance, the Red Sox designated hitter is now riding a season-high 12-game hitting streak. While hitting streaks can be as simple as going 1-for-4 in multiple consecutive contests, Ortiz’s current stretch of dozen is nowhere close to being that easy or simplistic.
During the 12-gamer, the 35-year-old has an astonishing hitting line of .522/.577/.1.043/1.620 to go with six home runs and 14 RBI, all the while either suffering or recovering from bursitis in his right heel. The run is among the most impressive of the slugger’s career. He has never before hit .500 or more over a hitting streak of at least 10 games.
Thanks to the scorching stretch, the 35-year-old is enjoying a monster year that resembles the sort of performances he hasn’t produced since 2007. His season average has improved to .311, its highest level since late June, because of the streak. He ranks among AL leaders in batting average (9th), OBP (.396, 6th), slugging (.587, 2nd), OPS (.983, 2nd), homers (27, 6th), RBI (86, 7th) and extra-base hits (62, T-4th).
But it wasn’t always this way for the soon-to-be free agent slugger. In the 10 games before his current streak began on Aug. 7, Ortiz was hitting just .104 and slugging .189. Call it the dog days of summer being what they are if you want, but that stretch only seemed typical at the time for a power hitter who managed only four home runs in 43 games from the middle of June to early August. (Again, Ortiz has six bombs in his last 12 games.)
So what caused the turn-around? Ortiz had but one answer, but he thought it was so important he repeated that answer four times.
“Work, work, work and work,” he said. “That’s it. It’s what you have to do.”
All that time and preparation came to a head Saturday in what was undoubtedly Ortiz’s most impressive single-day performance during the hitting streak, not only because his 5-for-8, four-RBI day at the plate but also the elements in which he achieved those numbers.
The scene at Fenway Park on Saturday was as if someone had placed a giant shower head above the ballpark and proceeded to turn it on at full blast sporadically between both afternoon contests. That led to three delays totaling four hours, but there were times when baseball was still being played despite the actions from the heavens. The Sox DH said the weather gave an advantage to neither the pitcher nor the hitter – “even money, even Steven” he called it – but that doesn’t mean it was exactly a cakewalk for the hitters like himself either.
“I remember this one at-bat that I had water dripping out of my helmet,” Ortiz said. “So you have the water, you have the ball coming. It’s not like you have Superman vision. You just stick with it. I think a lot of guys went through that.”
Twenty-two other position players between the two sides, in fact, went through the same conditions that Ortiz went through Saturday, but none had the same success he did. His five hits led all players (Dustin Pedroia was the closest with three) as did his four RBI (Jason Varitek had three RBI, all in the first game). Then again, none of those 22 players were as hot as Ortiz was entering Saturday either.
Now with two off-days coming up before the all-important three-game series with the Yankees next, Ortiz will have a little downtime before he has a chance to extend his hot streak to 13 games. In the meantime, he’s just going to sit back and enjoy what Irene has to offer, from inside of course.
Said Ortiz of his plans, “Chill at the house, man. Watch TV, watch a lot of movies and laugh at the guys that have to be playing on Sunday.”
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