10/05/2003 6:49 PM ET
Ortiz busts slump in a big way
Game-winning double snaps hitless drought in series
BOSTON -- Considered by some the Red Sox MVP of 2003, David Ortiz opened the AL Division Series against the A's hitless in his first 16 at-bats.
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
His luck -- and the series -- changed in Game 4 on Sunday.
Ortiz ripped a two-run double, his only hit of the ALDS so far, with two outs in the eighth inning to propel the Red Sox to a 5-4, come-from-behind victory against the A's, forcing a decisive Game 5 in Oakland.
It was perhaps the biggest hit of the series for the Red Sox.
"I can't think of any better time to do what he just did," said Red Sox manager Grady Little. "He's been in slumps before this year. He's come out with some big hits at the right time for the Boston Red Sox. That's what makes him so special."
The 0-for-16 slump was not indicative of how Ortiz felt in the batter's box. It was more perception than reality, he said. Oakland starters Tim Hudson, Barry Zito and Ted Lilly also had something to do with his ineffectiveness at the plate.
"I don't think I was struggling. I was just not hitting the ball where I wanted to," Ortiz said. "As everybody in this room knows, we faced the best pitching in the American League, and they make good pitches. If I was struggling, I don't think I would have hit the ball to win the game. Don't give up on me, people. Come on."
Good advice. The Red Sox definitely have not given up.
The teams go back to Oakland with the series tied at 2. The Athletics came into Boston on Thursday with a 2-0 lead in the series, but have dropped the last two games.
"It's going to be another tough game, and we've had tough games all throughout this series," said Nomar Garciaparra, who scored the first of two runs on Ortiz's double. "We are glad we are playing five. That was our goal after being down two. We wanted to come back, and now we have the opportunity to go back there and see what we can do."
Trailing 4-3 after 7 1/2 innings, the Red Sox were down -- but they were anything but out.
Garciaparra hit a one-out double off the wall in left field, and one out later, Manny Ramirez followed with a sharp base hit in between third base and shortstop.
Ramirez lifted his right hand and pointed his index finger in the air -- perhaps thinking Garciaparra would score to tie the game at 4 -- but the Red Sox shortstop slammed on the brakes after rounding third base.
It was a good move, considering Oakland left fielder Jose Guillen fielded the ball cleanly and threw a perfect strike to home plate that would have beaten Garciaparra to the plate easily.
The 35,048 in attendance exhaled a collective sigh of relief when Garciaparra did not advance.
He eventually did, becuase Ortiz made the point moot when he smashed the 3-2 pitch from Oakland closer Keith Foulke over the head of right fielder Jermaine Dye to score Garciaparra and Ramirez.
The Red Sox were ahead, and that's where they would stay.
"In that situation I faced at Oakland when we were there, he was throwing me high fastballs, good fastballs, about chest-high, and I was chasing it," Ortiz said. "And yesterday in the game, they just gave me the fastball and I was chasing it for some reason. So today, I guess I just had a better at-bat."
"The pitch, at 90 miles an hour, is tough to hit. He started me out like that and I know he's going to change it. I tried looking for the pitch at my hip level."
He got it.
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.