10/08/2004 11:55 PM ET
Monstrosi-tiz: David's hits huge
Lefty slugger goes 4-for-6 with three RBIs
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
|David Ortiz gets drenched in champagne in the Red Sox clubhouse Friday night. (Al Bello/Getty Images)
BOSTON -- Perched on the top step of the home dugout, Manny Ramirez knew it was a home run before David Ortiz did.
He knew it was gone even before it came out of Jarrod Washburn's hand.
"I called it," said Ramirez, soaked in champagne and water following Friday's 8-6 victory to complete the sweep of Anaheim in the ALDS. "I told [Mike] Timlin that David had not hit a home run in four days and it was time for it. The pitch. Boom! He came through."
Come through Ortiz did, all the way to the American League Championship Series. The big left-handed hitter's game winning two-run home run off Angels starter-turned reliever Washburn came on the first pitch he saw in the 10th inning and propelled the home team into the next round of the playoffs.
The pitch was a slider and it crossed the plate high in the hitting zone. Then it was gone to opposite field in a flash and another memorable moment in Boston Red Sox history had arrived instantly.
"Well, in that situation, let me tell you, I wasn't really thinking about hitting a home run," Ortiz said. "I wanted to have a good at-bat. I wanted to at least get on base. But when you just think about hitting the ball, have good contact with the ball, that's what happens."
The home run sailed a few rows over the wall in left field to set off a chorus of cheers and hugs throughout the 35,547 in attendance at Fenway Park. Pinch-runner Pokey Reese was mobbed at the plate by his teammates as he scored the first run on the home run and when Ortiz jumped on home plate, he disappeared in a sea of red, white and blue.
It was exactly what Ramirez had said it would be, only more.
"I was looking for a pitch in the strike zone," Ortiz said. "They were making good pitches the whole series against me, so I was just trying to lock myself in and see a pitch that I can hit."
Either the Yankees or Twins await the Red Sox in the next round. But immediately after the game, the only thing on the Red Sox's mind was celebration and who could wet who with buckets of water, beer and champagne in a clubhouse that lacked only a slide to be a full-fledged water park .
Ortiz, sporting goggles over his eyes and soaked uniform, could not wipe the smile off his face. He couldn't wipe off all the water that was being thrown on his head, either.
It's hard to blame Ortiz because nobody wearing a Red Sox uniform in that clubhouse wanted to do anything but savor the moment. Family and friends of the team eventually trickled into the clubhouse -- many congratulating Ortiz -- to enjoy the victory with their loved ones.
"David is one of those guys that I couldn't have been happier for anybody in the big leagues," Red Sox first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz said. "For what that man has gone through in the last three or four years, my gosh. The one thing I told him when I hugged him when he crossed that plate was, 'Momma would be proud.' He lost his momma a couple of years ago, and she was a big part of his life and the first thing I thought of when he hit it was, 'Come on momma, blow it out of here.'"
Johnny Damon echoed the sentiments, along the way adding his own brand of comedy to Ortiz's game-winner. Damon, who had earlier in the week affectionately referred to his teammates as "idiots," jokingly said he's not sure if Ortiz can swim if he ever had to, but he's sure his buddy can hit.
And on this night, hitting was all that mattered.
"Our problem on our team is we've got so many guys who are so valuable, but when he came up we knew he was going to have a good at-bat," Damon said. "We didn't know it was going to be that good but we'll take it. He's the man."
Said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, "Literally, I looked at [Kevin] Millar and I said, 'Can he hit a home run here?' It wasn't that far out of my mouth where it seemed like once it left his bat our players knew it was gone before I did."
The Red Sox needed a hero and early on, it appeared to be Bronson Arroyo. The right-hander allowed only two runs on three hits and stymied the Angels offense for six strong innings.
But things changed in the seventh when the Angels tied the game at 6 with a grand slam by Vladimir Guerrero and the bullpen, led by Brendan Donnelly and Frank Rodriguez took over.
Rodriguez went on to complete 2 2/3 effective innings before giving way to Washburn with two outs in the 10th. Ramirez's prediction and the storybook ending for Red Sox fans followed soon after.
"Manny looks over at me and tells me David is going to hit one out," Timlin said. "David does and Manny just looks at me and says 'I told you so.' He did. He really did."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.