What is a team supposed to do when they are repeatedly getting dominated by an opposing team’s pitching staff to the point that not even a single batter can put together any period of productive at-bats?
This is the question that the Boston Red Sox face after scoring three runs in their last two games and 10 runs in their four games against the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS. Combining to make this matter much worse is that David Ortiz — yes, the one that is revered as a postseason machine — can not buy a hit right now. As a result, morale around the Red Sox clubhouse seems to be at its lowest point of the 2013 season.
After all, it is not reasonable to think that this version of “The Idiots”, bearded and all, could be expected to be upbeat after being dominated by four different Tigers starting pitchers, especially with their best hitter looking helpless at the plate.
During the Red Sox series against the Tigers, which sits even at 2-2 after a 7-3 loss on Wednesday night, Ortiz has compiled an unsightly statistical line of .067/.176/.267. In the series, this line has looked completely justified, as Ortiz has simply looked unable to get around to fastballs that he used to smash out of the park whether it be because of age, fatigue, or possibly as a result of not having enough protection in the lineup.
Leaning towards not having enough protection in the Red Sox lineup seems to be a good consensus at this point, as Ortiz has been a wreck at the plate in the postseason since Manny Ramirez left town midway through the 2008 season. Since Ramirez was shipped off to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ortiz has appeared in three postseasons and put up statistics that make Alex Rodriguez look like Mr. October.
In 2008, Ortiz appeared in 11 games, putting up a triple-slash line of .186/.327/.349 with one home run and five RBIs, showing the first effects of not having Ramirez providing cover for him. In 2009, these struggles continued, as Ortiz put up a line of .083/.083/.083 in three games with zero walks, extra base hits and RBI. Finally, these struggles continued to pop up in 2013 as was previously explained by Ortiz’s struggles against the Tigers.
What all of this begins to show is that Ortiz has never been the postseason machine that many people portrayed him to be, especially since he lost the luxury of facing better pitches because of having Ramirez bat next to him for five years. Sure, Mike Napoli, David Pedroia and David Nava are all above-average hitters, but to say that any strikes fear in a pitcher’s heart close to the way Ramirez did would be a foolish statement at best.
While there is no doubting that Ortiz is a talented guy, the facts are that he simply is not a game-changer in the postseason without Ramirez batting behind him. It is time that fans and the media both begin to realize this, as providing a false facade does nothing except long for days of nostalgia when Ortiz was a guy that consistently changed postseasons games with his bat.