Chatting in rapid-fire Spanish, David Ortiz joked that Carlos Beltran was too old to make a home-run robbing catch, precisely the catch Beltran made in the bottom of the second that turned a potential Ortiz grand slam into a sacrifice fly. Ortiz could joke about the moment because he launched a two-run homer in the seventh, and the Red Sox easily won Game 1 of the World Series, 8-1.
“They have good pitching and a great bullpen and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” said Ortiz, who finished 2 for 3, including a homer and three RBIs.
The two-run blast pushed the Red Sox ahead, 7-0, and marked Ortiz’s fourth home run this postseason. He now has 16 career postseason home runs, ironically tying Beltran for the eighth most in history. As far as the Red Sox record book is concerned, Ortiz is one home run short of the club record for a single postseason. In 2003, Todd Walker hit five home runs and Ortiz equaled that total the following postseason.
But perhaps most impressive, his seventh-inning home run came off rookie lefthander Kevin Siegrist. And it came on a first-pitch fastball. Prior to that moment, Siegrist had not surrendered a home run to a lefthanded batter. In fact, he had only surrendered one home run in his major league league career, back in July.
“I shouldn’t be surprised,” said Red Sox catcher David Ross. “The guy keeps impressing me every time he steps in the box. The first time he ever faced a lefty throwing 97 and he hits a home run. That guy’s a good pitcher and we knew it coming in. David Ortiz showed why we call him ‘Cooperstown’ around here.”
That said, Ortiz expected he’d see a lot of fastballs from the Cardinals’ rookie reliever.
“I knew he has a good fastball,” said Ortiz. “A guy with that kind of fastball, you’re not going out there and look for the changeup or the slider. He’s got a good fastball and I still can hit fastballs.”
And he can still hit with a tremendous amount of power, precisely the kind of power that has Fenway fans believing every time he bats, a home run may happen.
When Ortiz stepped to the plate in the second, the Fenway Park crowd sensed a big moment in the making. The based were loaded with one out. The stage seemed set for more Big Papi drama. Then, Ortiz took a mighty swing at an Adam Wainwright pitch and the ball sailed toward the low-walled Red Sox bullpen. Fans rose to their feet ready to celebrate another Ortiz home run. With the power Ortiz has displayed during the postseason, they were sure the ball was gone.
But Beltran played the role of spoiler, then paid for it. Beltran reached over the bullpen wall and made a home-run saving catch. The right fielder left the game in the third inning with a rib contusion from his collision with the bullpen wall. Beltran is day-to-day with the injury. Ortiz said he hopes that Beltran “is doing well.”
While Ortiz didn’t get the homer he expected in the second, his teammates still got to Wainwright. And that did not entirely surprise the slugger.
“Wainwright is the kind of pitcher that we know has good stuff,'’ said Ortiz. We also know that he knows how to get you chasing pitches out of the strike zone. What makes this team so good is we’re patient. We know how to stay away from chasing pitches out of the strike zone. I guess that went against him tonight.”
For Ortiz, his patience paid off in the seventh. “I just made sure I hit it a little farther, so nobody could jump over and catch it,” he said. The ball went about 10 feet farther, cleared the bullpen, and entered the stands. The only people at Fenway attempting a catch were the fans.
After the game, Ortiz was not making any promises about future home runs. But he did guarantee that the Cardinals would play better in Game 2.
“It’s just the beginning,” said Ortiz. “We’ve got to come back hungry [Thursday] and play the game the way we did tonight.”