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Saturday, May 26, 2018

David Ortiz’s incredible bat and leadership are powering the Boston Red Sox

David-Ortiz-rips-Buster-OlneyCall it a coincidence or call it a well-received wakeup call. The fact of the matter is the Boston Red Sox have not trailed in the World Series since David Ortiz gathered his teammates together in the dugout during Game 4.

It was the 5th inning with the score tied 1-1. Boston was trailing 2-1 in the series, and a loss would have put the Red Sox in the dreaded 3-1 hole that is nearly impossible to crawl out of. Had that happened, they would haven been in legitimate danger of not returning home for another game at Fenway Park in 2013. Instead, Jonny Gomes blasted a three-run homer in the next inning to put the Sox on top 4-1. They have not looked back since.

Ortiz is carrying the Red Sox, both physically and emotionally. After going 3-for-4 with another RBI in Monday night’s Game 5 victory, Big Papi is now 11-for-15 in the World Series. That’s a .733 batting average. He has also walked four times, which means he has reached base in 15 of 20 plate appearances — a .750 on-base percentage. Ortiz’s teammates and coaches would tell you his Game 4 speech was just as important as his ridiculously hot bat.

“If this guy wants to rally us together for a pep talk, it was like 24 kindergartners looking up at their teacher,” Gomes said, via Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “He got everyone’s attention, and we looked him right in the eyes.

Papi’s message was simple: a World Series appearance doesn’t come along all that often. For some guys, it never comes. Ortiz urged his teammates to relax and enjoy the ride.

“He was just talking about relaxing. You don’t always ever have an opportunity to get into a World Series,” third base coach Brian Butterfield said. “There’s a lot of people that don’t get into it. Cherish the moment. Relax. He said, ‘We belong here. We’re an outstanding team.’ He was basically telling his teammates they’re outstanding players and to relax and let it all hang out. It was really nice and really cool, especially coming from him.”

Outfielder Daniel Nava said that Ortiz was bigger than the team at that moment, but he meant it in a good way.

“We weren’t the Red Sox,” Nava said. “We were the Boston Ortizes.”

Ortiz has been on this stage twice, and both times his team has shined. They have a chance to do it again with a 3-2 lead heading back to Boston on Wednesday night. Lackey is the guy the Red Sox want on the mound, but things could get hairy if he is bested by youngster Michael Wacha and John Farrell is forced to give the ball to Jake Peavy to start Game 7.

“I don’t have another 10 years on me,” Ortiz explained. “I don’t know when I’m going to be back in the World Series. I have to give everything I have right now.”

Does Big Papi have one more clutch hit left in him? It would be unwise to doubt him.

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