No matter who took the postgame podium, no matter the question, most answers seemed to somehow wind around to David Ortiz. Always an outsized presence, the 6-foot-4-inch, 250-pound slugger has loomed particularly large in the 2013 World Series. Every game features Ortiz as catalyst, as inspiration, as highlight producer. And Game 5 Monday night was no exception, just a continuation with three hits, including a tone-setting RBI double down the first base line in the opening inning.
With the double and singles in the fourth and eighth innings, Ortiz helped spark the Red Sox to a 3-1 victory at Busch Stadium. Boston returns home to Fenway Park with a 3-2 World Series lead.
“It’s a tough spot when you get to 3-2 because you know you’re close to it,” said Ortiz. “That’s the biggest challenge. You’ve got to come back on Wednesday and continue playing the way we have.”
So far, Ortiz has been unbelievably impressive at the plate, batting .733 (11 for 15) for the Fall Classic and staking claim to MVP honors in the minds of most observers. More than that, he is awing his teammates with nearly every at-bat. And these are players who know Ortiz the best.
“Speaking of David Ortiz, what planet is that guy from?” said David Ross.
As a catcher, Ross watched his St. Louis counterpart, Yadier Molina, try to outwit Ortiz from behind the plate with little success. Ross empathized with the tough, near impossible task, handed Molina.
“I’m watching what Yadi is doing,” said Ross. “And they’ve tried a lot. David’s just, he’s just, he’s David Ortiz. That says enough. The guy is a postseason stud and a stud in general . . . That’s why we call him ‘Cooperstown’ because he does Hall of Fame stuff.”
Jon Lester was so effusive in his comments that it started to sound like a toast at a retirement party. And it seemed as if Lester became aware of that, adding quickly that he hoped to have Ortiz around for a while longer.
“I haven’t played with many superstars,” said Lester. “But this guy right here is the epitome of a superstar and a good teammate. And I don’t think you could ever ask for more out of an individual than what he does on and off the field.”
Ortiz didn’t see anything all that special in his World Series numbers, his key hits mixed with more than competent fielding at Busch Stadium.
When asked if he remembered another five-game span like the one he has enjoyed against the Cardinals, Ortiz said, “I did it like 20 times this year . . . I was born for this.”
Immediately following Game 5, Ortiz wrapped both ankles in ice, showing the physical toll of fielding duties and sprinting to first base. In addition to being a big bat, he is a big body to move around. And both Ortiz and manager John Farrell acknowledged the challenge of contributing both offensively and defensively.
“Just getting old,” said the 37-year-old Ortiz. “Just too much running. I’ve been playing the field the past three days and I’m not used to it. And it’s a whole totally different game. But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, especially at this stage. The World Series, you’ve got to help your ball club win games. Like they say, no pain, no gain.”
When asked if Ortiz had injured himself Monday, Farrell said: “No, David — he’s been running the bases a lot, thankfully. But, no, we wanted to get him off his feet after that inning. We sent him back out for the eighth, just so we could double-switch with [Koji] Uehara come in there, but he’s fine.”
Again, maybe not what the Cardinals want to hear. After all, when St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright got Ortiz to line to center fielder Shane Robinson in the sixth, he seemed to almost celebrate on the mound.
“I wasn’t paying any attention to that,” said Ortiz. “To be honest, he threw me some tough pitches tonight . . . It’s a battle when you face that kind of pitcher as good as he is, and as good as the rest of the pitchers that they have. If you try to look for everything they throw, you’re definitely not going to hit anything.”