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Ortiz, Red Sox on right track

Ortiz, Red Sox on right track
When David Ortiz couldn't catch up to an 88-mph fastball, he knew he had tumbled into a terrible place.

Yesterday, he seemed to find the way out, banging an opposite-field double and triple, just his second and third extra-base hits of the season.

With those hits, he joined what turned out to be an impressive offensive show by the Red Sox , who banged out 15 hits while bludgeoning the Baltimore Orioles, 12-1, to move over .500 (7-6) for the first time since Opening Day and gain a half-game on the idle Blue Jays. Boston, which has won five straight, is 2-1/2 games behind first-place Toronto.

Dustin Pedroia had his first four-hit game of the season, scored three times, and had three RBIs. Jacoby Ellsbury was 3 for 6 and scored three times. It went on and on as the Sox jumped on the Orioles' bullpen for three runs in the sixth and six more in the seventh to break open a close game.

Justin Masterson, starting in place of injured Daisuke Matsuzaka, picked up the win, allowing just four singles and one run in 5-1/3 innings. The bullpen allowed just one hit the rest of the way.

All of that helped the Sox sweep Baltimore in a four-game series at Fenway for the first time since 1995. These O's have been feathered friends indeed to Boston, and everyone else this season, allowing opponents to score in double figures five times in 13 games. The Sox did it twice in this series.

While most of that was happening, Ortiz wasn't in on the party. When he was late on Koji Uehara's 88-mph heater on Sunday, he knew he had hit bottom.

"If you can't hit 88, that means you've got to go," Ortiz said.

Or, he added, it means your mechanics are all messed up. He said hitting coach Dave Magadan spotted something wrong in his swing late in Sunday's game and they made some adjustments.

"When we were playing on the West Coast, I was jumping at the ball," Ortiz said. "Now, I'm not jumping, but I wasn't coming through like I should. My mechanics weren't there. I'd like to swing like Pedroia and not worry about mechanics."

Ortiz sliced a double off the base off the wall off lefty Mark Hendrickson in the first when the Sox scored a pair of runs. His triple off Dennis Sarfate in the sixth sailed just over the outstretched glove of Felix Pie and also caught the wall.

With the triple, he joined Johnny Damon as the only American League batters with at least one triple in each of the last 10 seasons. You could win a bet with that stat.

The key thing for Sox manager Terry Francona was the direction of both Ortiz hits.

"Any time hitters hit the ball the other way with authority, something's got to be right," Francona said.

Ortiz agreed, saying when he's going well, he hits the ball to left "without even thinking about it."

Those opposite-field hits were a welcome sight for a player who came into the game hitting just .170 with a measly .191 slugging percentage and 14 strikeouts.

"I was seeing the ball good and I was feeling good, but I wasn't putting the ball in play," he said. "It was because I was late. It got a little bit out of hand, but at that point you don't want to get frustrated because you just make it worse."

His manager wasn't giving up on him, though. Even with a left-hander going yesterday, Francona kept Ortiz in the lineup. He thought that facing a lefty would make him stay on the ball and that would be good for him. He turned out to be right.

The fans stuck with him, too, chanting his name before he swatted that triple, and again an inning later when he was hit on the foot by a Radhames Liz pitch.

His teammates, of course, also were still pulling for him and were happy to see him get going. They figured it was just a matter of time.

"He'll be all right," Pedroia said. "He swung the bat good today and he's got to build on that and keep moving forward. It's a long year. He's got 600 at-bats left. The season is not 50 at-bats."

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 22, 2009

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