BOSTON – The Boston Red Sox may not have made the World Series without David Ortiz’s bat, because with one swing he changed Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, erasing a four-run deficit and spurring what became an essential victory over the Detroit Tigers.
But to win what would be their third championship in 10 years, the Red Sox likely will need more consistent production from Ortiz, their designated hitter and cleanup hitter and the only remaining connection to the 2004 World Series champions.
Ortiz went 2 for 22 in the six games of the ALCS, walking three times for a .091 average. The Cardinals, no doubt, were taking notes.
“He’s certainly been pitched to very effectively,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said. “Guys haven’t given in to him. They’ve worked him backwards in some fastball counts,” throwing off-speed pitches when the situation normally would dictate a fastball.
Ortiz has 15 homers in 76 postseason games, and at age 37, he is still the focal point of the Boston lineup. In two previous World Series appearances — 2004 against St. Louis and 2007 against Colorado, both sweeps for the Red Sox – he went 9 for 34 (.265) with one homer and eight RBI.
“He poses that threat every time he steps in the box,” Farrell said. “He recognizes that a lot of teams will pitch him carefully. . . . David is typically not a guy that gets frustrated with the attack plan of the opposition.”
The ALCS Most Valuable Player was Red Sox closer Koji Uehara, the final piece in a bullpen that has allowed just one run in 21 postseason innings.
“The way I would sum it up is that I thought their starters were good,” Detroit Manager Jim Leyland said. “I thought their bullpen was great.”
Uehara had three saves and a win in the series, allowing two singles and striking out seven in his five innings. And he will bring the element of surprise against the Cardinals: Carlos Beltran is the only player on St. Louis’s roster who has ever faced Uehara, going 1 for 3 against him. . . .
The Red Sox took Sunday off and will work out Monday at Fenway Park. They could choose to use left-hander Jon Lester to start Wednesday’s Game 1 at Fenway Park against St. Louis. Lester, who has opened each of Boston’s previous playoff series, last pitched Thursday in Game 5, so he would have five days of rest.
The question for Farrell and the Red Sox will be Game 2. They used John Lackey in the second game of their division series victory over Tampa Bay and Clay Buchholz in Game 2 against the Tigers. Buchholz, who pitched five innings in Saturday night’s Game 6, would be on regular rest for Thursday’s second World Series game. Lackey, who beat Justin Verlander with 62 / 3 scoreless innings in Game 3, will have had eight days off.