Ortiz still has knack for the big hit

David Ortiz may not be hitting for a high batting average these days, but he still has a knack for the timely home run.

Ortiz snapped the Oakland Athletics’ five-game winning streak with a go-ahead home run in the 10th inning to salvage a win and avoid a four-game sweep.

Most Go-Ahead HR, 9th Inning or Later
Since 2003

That marked the 16th time that Ortiz has hit a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning or later of a regular-season game since joining the Boston Red Sox in 2003. Only Adam Dunn (17) has more in that span. Ortiz would top the list if you included his two go-ahead homers in the ninth inning or later in postseason play.

Ortiz has four game-tying or go-ahead home runs in the eighth inning or later this season, matching the total he had in the previous three seasons combined.

Three of those have come in the last 15 days- a go-ahead home run versus Joba Chamberlain and the Detroit Tigers on June 8 and a game-tying home run in the 10th inning against the Minnesota Twins on June 18 to go with Sunday’s home run.

Sunday’s home run was noteworthy in that it came off a left-handed pitcher—Fernando Abad- who tried to get him out with a knuckle curve.

Ortiz hadn’t homered against anything other than a fastball against a left-handed pitcher since hitting one against a curveball from Scott Diamond last May 18. Ortiz’s last 10 home runs prior to Sunday against lefties came on fastballs.

Ortiz has six home runs against left-handed pitching this season, one shy of his total from 2013.

Still hitting the ball hard

Ortiz may rank 38th in the majors in slugging percentage this season, but he’s still hitting the ball very hard.

We use a video-tracking service used by major league teams and media that rates batted balls as hard, medium or soft.

Ortiz has had a hard-hit ball in 24 percent of his at-bats. That ranks fourth-best in the majors, trailing only Victor Martinez, Troy Tulowitzki and Andrew McCutchen.

Each of those three players above Ortiz is hitting .300 or better.

Ortiz is hitting .248, largely because his batting average when hitting a hard-hit ball is only .591. That ranks 156th out of the 168 players who have qualified for the batting title.

It’s also well below the .745 and .730 batting averages Ortiz has posted when hitting the ball hard the previous two seasons.

Looking ahead

The Red Sox head to Safeco Field to face the Mariners next ay a park that has been very friendly to Ortiz recently. Ortiz is hitting .348 there since the start of the 2010 season. He was 8 for 13 with two home runs and three walks at Safeco last season.