It's going on 14 years now since David Ortiz came to Boston and established himself as the most clutch player this team has seen. And he just keeps on going.
This was a long game with some seriously dark moments. Clay Buchholz? Yeah, he might well be done now. He gave up a solo shot in the first, and a grand slam in the second. Whether these terrible starts can be fixed or not, with the Sox pushing Joe Kelly on us in the near future, it just makes too much sense for them to try whatever they're going to try outside of the regular season schedule.
But even if the Red Sox offense isn't doing what they did during the Athletics series and the first game of this one, they were still hitting. Much like in their Friday loss, the Sox put together a long inning in the early going, pushing two across in the bottom half of the first to briefly take the lead. But despite the first four batters of the inning reaching, and the sixth (Travis Shaw) drawing a bases loaded walk, Josh Rutledge grounded into a double play and that was that.
So the Sox found themselves behind 5-2, but they chipped away as Buchholz did his usual middle-innings thing after the disastrous opening and the bullpen held the Astros in check. David Ortiz continued his climb up the all-time homer charts by hitting number 513 to right in the third, and in the fourth Mookie Betts managed to beat out a double play ball to allow Josh Rutledge to score from third after he led off the frame with a double.
The fifth run, though, the fifth run was elusive. The Sox would waste three baserunners between the fifth and sixth, and in the eighth Dustin Pedroia grounded out on the first and only pitch he saw as a pinch-hitter to strand Travis Shaw on second. That left only the ninth, and after three batters, the Red Sox had Xander Bogaerts on first, David Ortiz at the plate, and two outs.
In other words, they were basically the favorites. What does David Ortiz do but come through in these situations? Luke Gregorson didn't quite get his 0-1 fastball low enough, and Ortiz sent a rocket towards the gap in left. Jake Marisnick got on his horse and tride to make a diving grab, but couldn't quite get there as Ortiz ran all the way to third, letting Bogaerts score the tying run from first with ease.
And then...another dark moment, as Hanley Ramirez--Hanley Ramirez, who entered the at bat with a .309 batting average--dropped a bunt. I don't know. John Farrell doesn't know. I don't know if Hanley even knows. Inning over, a huge chance wasted.
This would be the sort of horrible moment that would've threatened to throw a wrench in the season of a revitalized Ramirez if the Red Sox had lost. This town would have exploded, and perhaps lost all the good will that's been built up over the first 36 games of the year. And when he couldn't corral a bloop to right in the top of the eleventh after Craig Kimbrel managed a scoreless 10th, it was just too easy to see how events could've spiraled out of control for the first baseman.
But Koji Uehara retired George Springer after intentionally walking Jose Altuve, with Bogaerts managing to get under a slightly elusive pop fly, and that brought the top of Boston's lineup up to bat. If ever the Red Sox were going to score, this was going to be--
Mookie Betts grounds out on a checked swing, Jackie Bradley squibs one to the pitcher. Three pitches, two outs.
But there was still hope. Xander Bogaerts saw a third pitch in his at bat after taking the first two for balls, and then a fourth, and a fifth. On the sixth, with the count full, he slipped a ground ball into right field for a single, and gave David Ortiz his chance. And as we've already covered, when David Ortiz gets those chances, he takes them. Especially when Houston decided to let him keep it when the 1-2 pitch bounced away and left first base open with Bogaerts taking second. The very next pitch was a changeup to hit, and the designated hitter once again set Marisnick to running, this time back towards the wall in right-center. And as before, Marisnick was never getting there, letting Bogaerts come around again, and winning the game for the Red Sox.
It could have been one extraordinarily frustrating loss. It could have left a big black mark on Hanley Ramirez' season. It could have been two-in-a-row, and the start of a losing streak. Instead, it's just the first win in the next big winning streak. Or at least it's hard not to feel that way with the way this team is playing, and the way David Ortiz won this one in the end.