A huge game from David Ortiz lifted the Red Sox to a 5-3 extra-innings victory over the division champion Baltimore Orioles Friday night.
After being sidelined for three days as the Red Sox headed into National League territory, Ortiz had been held quiet in his return to action Thursday night. One of Boston's only strong producers at the plate this season, Ortiz' 0-for-4 night was actually just another unfortunate performance in a largely disappointing September. Entering Friday night's contest against the Orioles, he was hitting just .217/.280/.391 on the month.
Ortiz' slump would continue through the first three innings. The same was true for Boston's offense as a whole. Facing off against Kevin Gausman, Daniel Nava was the only Red Sox batter to reach base the first time through the order, singling to right in the second inning. Mookie Betts managed a single back up the middle in the third, but a fly ball from Xander Bogaerts left the Sox with nothing to show through three innings.
The Orioles, on the other hand, managed to get to Red Sox starter Allen Webster after just two scoreless frames. There was a lot about that bottom of the third that promised a traditional Webster meltdown, with nothing going right as ground balls found holes, prompting Webster to get too fine, missing the strike zone with four of five pitches to Steve Pearce, walking the bases loaded. With Nelson Cruz producing a chopper to third that didn't even leave the grass for an RBI infiel single, even with two outs, it felt like an inning that was going to end in nothing less than disaster.
Instead, Webster got ahead of Jimmy Paredes 1-2 and put him away with a ground ball. Inning over. Webster would find himself in trouble once more come the fifth, when a David Lough single into center with Alejandro De Aza at second seemed poised to provide a second run for the Orioles, but Rusney Castillo made his presence known on defense, gunning down De Aza at home to preserve what would ultimately prove a strong night from Webster: 5.2 innings of work allowing one run on seven hits, one walk, and three strikeouts. About as good as Red Sox fans can hope for from him these days.
While the Orioles had drawn first blood back in the third, the Red Sox proved quick to respond, and it was David Ortiz getting the job done. After taking effectively a waste pitch for ball one, Ortiz crushed a low fastball into the stands in right field, securing a franchise record eighth season with 30 homers and 100 RBI. He was not the only one getting to Gausman either, with Yoenis Cespedes punishing a hanging curveball just three pitches later for another solo shot to dead-center. The back-to-back bombs flipped the score on the Orioles, turning the 1-0 lead into a 2-1 deficit.
In the very next inning, David Ortiz would once again be part of a productive attack. With Mookie Betts at first, Ortiz hammered a line drive into the right field corner, allowing Mookie Betts to come home and, with the throw home eating up Caleb Joseph, score without trouble to make it 3-1.
Boston's lead would not ultimately hold, however. While Burke Badenhop came in to record two quick outs in the seventh, the Sox turned to Craig Breslow for the third, and he just could not get it. A lengthy battle with Alejandro De Aza ended in a double, setting up Delmon Young to take a 2-0 fastball over Daniel Nava's head in right for an RBI triple. Alex Wilson would come in and get the ground ball he needed, but Xander Bogaerts' throw pulled Allen Craig off the bag, allowing Steve Pearce to reach and Young to score the tying run from third.
With neither side scoring in te eighth or ninth, the Sox and Orioles would head into extra innings to decide it. There, David Ortiz made it clear that this was his game, and he was not about to let it go. With Xander Bogaerts reaching on an error ahead of him, Ortiz received another fastball over the plate. This one was slightly higher, and coming in from submariner Darren O' Day, but it didn't change the result. This time Steve Pearce barely bothered giving chase, watching as Ortiz's second homer of the game cleared the high wall in right, putting the Sox ahead 5-3. Edward Mujica came in to work a 1-2-3 tenth with the help of a double play, sealing the win on Papi's big night.