BOSTON -- Quick hits from a stirring win Saturday at Fenway:
Sox slugger David Ortiz came to bat with the bases loaded in the ninth inning for the second time in as many games against Detroit. Friday night, he hit his ninth career grand slam, but that left the Sox a run short. Saturday, he delivered a game-winning, three-run double off Tigers left-hander Phil Coke.
Ortiz showed bunt on the first pitch, then drove a 2-and-1 fastball from Coke on a line into the gap in left-center, scoring Marco Scutaro, Jed Lowrie and Kevin Youkilis. Tigers manager Jim Leyland had ordered Youkilis walked intentionally to set up a double play against Ortiz, who was 0-for-8 in his career against Coke.
Boston players began racing onto the field before Youkilis had even dove across the plate for the winning score.
“I was trying to bunt, but he threw a pitch in the dirt and I took it,” said Ortiz. “I was trying to just put the ball in play. He [Coke] is the kind of guy that knows how to hit his spot with good stuff.”
“It’s actually a pretty smart move,” said manager Terry Francona of Ortiz’s surprise bunt attempt. “He got himself into a fastball count and really took a pretty swing.”
The double was the 18th walk-off hit of Ortiz’s career and the 15th he’s tagged while with Boston. He also extended his hitting streak to a season-high nine games, posting a .308 average (12-for-39) and driving in 12 runs in that span.
“We haven’t been able to come back lately,” Ortiz said. “So to come back today ... it felt good, man. It was a game where we weren’t able to score some runs in the opportunities we had, and to come back and win it, it feels great.”
“I’ve kept on saying that our team will be fine, it’s just the injuries have hurt us a lot.
The winning run was the 500th run of Youkilis’ career.
“It’s unbelievable the way he does things,” Ortiz said of Youkilis. “He’s one of the best base runners we have on our team.”
The walk-off win was the fifth for Boston in 2010, the last coming on July 17 against Texas.
“It was a busy day,” summarized a relieved Terry Francona. “A long day, but it ended up being a good one. It didn’t seem that way for a while, but anytime you hear that music playing, you know something good happened.”
“Game over,” Ortiz said. “I don’t like playing extra innings, anyway.”
Walk on by
Putting Ortiz's penchant for dramatics in perspective, courtesy of Elias. Ortiz has the most walk-off hits in baseball since 2003 with 15. Albert Pujols is second with 12, Andre Ethier third with 11. Among the Sox over the last 50 years, Ortiz's 15 again are at the head of the class, with a trio of Hall of Famers trailing (Carl Yastrzemski, 11; Jim Rice, 9; Carlton Fisk 8).
Matsuzaka goes six
It appeared that Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka might not make it very far into the game after a rocky first inning. He served up a home run to Triple Crown threat Miguel Cabrera, the first baseman’s 26th this year, putting the Sox in an early 2-0 hole. The towering blast quickly disappeared over the Monster, driving in Will Rhymes to give Cabrera a league-leading 91 RBIs.
The first inning has not been easy for Matsuzaka this season, as he has allowed 18 runs in his 15 starts (10.50 ERA).
However, the right-hander would settle down over the course of the game, limiting the Tigers to two additional runs before exiting in the sixth inning after a leadoff double by rookie Austin Jackson. He finished with a line of 6-plus innings, 4 runs, 8 hits, 2 walks and 5 strikeouts in taking the no-decision. It was only the second time he’s allowed more than three earned runs in his last 11 outings.
Matsuzaka has pitched at least six innings in his last four starts, the longest such streak he’s had since a seven-start stretch in 2007.
The Sox promoted left-handed reliever Dustin Richardson, a roster spot opening when Ramon Ramirez was traded. Richardson was originally recalled on June 12 and spent time over five weeks with the big club before being sent back to Pawtucket on July 20. The southpaw performed admirably in that span, posting a 2.57 ERA over 13 relief appearances.
He began his second major league stint of the year on an encouraging note Saturday, entering in the seventh inning, after Austin Jackson’s leadoff double bumped Matsuzaka from the game. A successful sacrifice bunt by Rhymes moved Jackson to third with one out, but Richardson struck out highly touted Tigers rookie Brennan Boesch with a knee-high slider.