When the Boston Red Sox need him, he's usually there. So David Ortiz tossed his team on his back again Monday, like he's done so many times before, launching a three-run, game-tying homer and following it up with a go-ahead sac fly two innings later.
The Red Sox had lost 10 games in a row, and in that streak, Ortiz hadn't driven in a single run. But as we've seen in the past — think that classic homer in the ALCS last season or the mid-game pep walk in the World Series — Big Papi was there to inject some life into his team when it needed him the most.
Thanks to four Ortiz RBIs, the Red Sox snapped that depressing losing streak, beating the Atlanta Braves 8-6 on Sunday, their first win since May 14. After the game, Ortiz told reporters, including Ian Browne of MLB.com:
"We've been fighting, trying to make things happen. Today wasn't the best way to start, but I've got to give credit to everybody. Everybody stayed together to fight through it and we ended up getting the W. Hopefully this is the beginning of something good ...
"You've got to start one way or the other," Ortiz said. "Things couldn't get no worse than what we've had the past 10 games."
As Ortiz mentioned, things didn't start well for the Red Sox. Many thought their skirmish Sunday with the Tampa Bay Rays might ignite something within the Sox, but they fell behind 6-1 early to the Braves, as starting pitcher Clay Buchholz gave up six runs on eight walks in the first three innings, pumping his ERA up to 7.02.
But thanks to Ortiz and teammate Dustin Pedroia, who had a two-run single in the fifth before Papi's homer, the Red Sox's fortunes reversed Monday after all.
"In 10 games prior to today, there's one RBI combined [from Pedroia and Ortiz]," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Today there is six between the two. I think the outcome is directly correlated to their performance. That's not to put it all on them because we had a lot of good at-bats all the way up and down the lineup today. But them being in the middle of the lineup, their contributions are key for us."
After winning on May 14, the Red Sox were 20-19, half a game out of first place in the AL East. Now they're 21-29, last in the division and eight games out of first. If there's any silver lining to take away from this, it's that the Red Sox now just how quickly a big streak can change their place in the standings.
Now, they just need to get moving in the opposite direction.
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