BOSTON -- The mark left by Boston designated hitter David Ortiz on this World Series has been huge. The list of his accomplishments takes about half of an 81/2 by 14-inch page in the World Series press notes. His name is mentioned in just about every discussion of the Cardinals-Red Sox Series. When he was finally retired in Game 5, on a fly ball to deep center, the event received one of the night's biggest ovations. He's having that kind of a Series.
If the World Series ends with the Red Sox winning, it is almost guaranteed that Ortiz will be the series MVP, even though he has a teammate, Jon Lester, who has gone 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA. Heck, if the Cardinals win, Ortiz will likely still get consideration, though if Game 6 starter Michael Wacha has another outing like the first, he would be in prime position.
"The way he's swung the bat is second to none," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
"I was born for this," Ortiz said.
The numbers Ortiz is putting up are incredible. They would be incredible in June, let along in the last week of October. The most relevant comparison is to Barry Bonds, circa 2002, when the intentional walk seemed the best way to keep him in check.
"We walked Barry a lot more than Dave has been walked," Red Sox Game 6 starter John Lackey said Tuesday. "I think that speaks to the guys we've got hitting behind David. We've got some good players. I can remember a couple of times in '02 intentionally walking Barry, and the first pitch Benito (Santiago) hooked me up with a couple of ground balls for double-play balls."
In this World Series, Ortiz is hitting .733 (11 for 15). He tied a World Series record by reaching safely in nine straight plate appearances, and his on-base percentage for the Series is .737. Among players with at least 10 plate appearances in a single World Series, he's second all time in average and on-base percentage behind Billy Hatcher of Cincinnati, who hit .750 in 1990 with an .800 on-base percentage. (Hatcher is the only other player to reach base safely nine straight times in a World Series.)
Overall in the World Series, Ortiz is 20 for 43 for a .465 average, the best among the 408 players with at least 35 plate appearances. His double in Game 5 was his ninth extra-base hit in his career, the most ever by a Red Sox player and second among active players behind Derek Jeter, with 13.
With three hits in Game 4 and Game 5, he became the 23rd player to do it, and the first since Johnny Damon in 2009. Lou Brock is the only player to do it in three straight games (in 1968). Ortiz is the fourth player to reach safely at least three times in four straight games in a single World Series. The others are San Francisco's Barry Bonds (2002), Cincinnati's Pete Rose (1975) and the Yankees' Johnny Lindell in 1947.
He's the first player to get 11 hits in a single World Series since Lance Berkman in 2011. The record is 13, by Bobby Richardson of the Yankees in 1964, Brock of the Cardinals in 1968 and Marty Barrett of the Red Sox in 1986. No player has ever had more than nine in a five-game Series. And he also had a grand slam taken away from him when Carlos Beltran pulled his fly ball back from over the fence in Game 1.
"When you're going as good as he is balls just seem to find holes, and that's what has happened," the Cardinals' Matt Carpenter said.
"Could you say he's a one-man wrecking crew?" asked teammate Shane Victorino. "Yeah. We said we were going to get on his back. He's done it continuously all year long. He's done it last round, he's doing it this round. It's been fun to watch. We've got to keep going, though. Hopefully it keeps continuing. I don't know when they're going to realize they're not going to pitch to him. "
While many think that what needs to happen is for the Cardinals to no longer give Ortiz anything to hit, the slugger said that's already happening.
"To be honest with you, (Adam Wainwright) threw me some tough pitches," Ortiz said. "He was throwing me cutters. And I know that pretty much after he gets ahead with two strikes, he wants to strike me out on a breaking ball. So you make up your mind. 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 -- they have a great pitching staff. And if you try to look for everything they throw, you definitely are not going to hit anything. I've got my mindset, I've been playing this game for too long, and when I go to the plate, I try to look for a strike and try not to get out of it. And that's pretty much what I've been doing all year."
Ortiz is a win away from moving into a special spot in Red Sox history. He's the only player remaining from the Red Sox championship teams in 2004 and '07, and has a chance for a third title. The Red Sox last clinched a World Series in Boston in 1918, so a 95-year drought could come to an end in the next two days. That's the main reason the price for tickets for Game 6 has shot up, going as high as $1,860, the highest price ever for a ticket in Boston according to a company that tracks these things. Bleacher seats that a week ago were selling for $300 are now fetching $1,100.
Ortiz will be back at designated hitter Wednesday onight after three days at first base, meaning he'll have Mike Napoli hitting behind him and making it even harder to pitch around Ortiz. (Ortiz was 1 for 2 with a homer and a walk against Wacha in Game 2). With history calling, Ortiz knows this could be a special night.
"It's going to get loud out there," Ortiz said. "Our fans are baseball fans. They love the game and they love how we've been going at it every day. And I'm pretty sure it's going to be very loud out there."
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