Sluggers' sticks turn into brooms
Ortiz, Ramirez provide punch to power potent offense
ANAHEIM -- David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez flexed their collective muscles against the Angels during the American League Division Series, and the results were predictable.
Sunday's final installment of the "Big Papi and Manny" power show ended any hopes the Angels had of avoiding a sweep to the Red Sox, who took a 9-1 victory in the series finale.
Angels starter Jered Weaver looked overpowering in the first three innings, when he struck out five of the first 11 Boston hitters.
Ortiz then stepped into the batter's box to lead off the fourth against the Angels right-hander. After falling behind, 0-1, Ortiz cranked a blast into the right-field stands to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.
"I see the ball, I hit it," Ortiz said.
Ortiz now has 10 postseason homers, the most in Red Sox history.
Weaver was hardly out of trouble with Ramirez following Ortiz.
Weaver appeared composed when the count moved to full against Ramirez. But there had to be a lot going on inside Weaver's chest after he delivered the next pitch and Ramirez sent a blast deep over the wall in center field that landed on the green batters' eye backdrop. Ramirez stood and watched before starting his way around the bases.
"That's Manny," said Ortiz with a chuckle. "Postseason is about having fun. Manny has fun. Manny is one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game."
Of added significance to Ramirez's home run Sunday, it was the 22nd of his career, which tied him with Bernie Williams for the most postseason home runs in Major League history.
The Red Sox had a quick-strike 2-0 lead. And with Curt Schilling pitching like he usually does in the postseason, the atmosphere inside Angel Stadium felt like game, set and match.
Ortiz and Ramirez have now connected for consecutive home runs twice in their postseasons together with the Red Sox.
"I know we're thrilled that we run them out there, because they're dangerous," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "You saw today we had [runners at] second and third, [but we] didn't score. [We] come back [next inning with] nobody on. All of a sudden we get those two runs back. David and Manny, back-to-back, take beautiful swings and it gives us the cushion, and Schilling made it hold up."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia understood the danger of facing Ortiz and Ramirez back-to-back in the lineup, noting earlier in the series that you had to "pick your poison."
"Well, I don't know if they feed off each other," Scioscia said. "They're trying to hit the ball every time they're up at the plate, whether the guy in front of them made an out or what happened.
"But they're as good a 1-2 punch as there is in baseball. I think some of the mistakes that Jered made, and there weren't many today, but he made a couple of them in that inning to Ortiz. He didn't get the fastball quite in the zone he wanted to. And with Manny, he left a breaking ball up into the zone on a 3-2 count, and Manny didn't miss it."
In Game 1 of the ALDS, Ortiz hit his ninth career postseason home run with a runner aboard in the third to put the Red Sox up, 3-0.
Ramirez answered his running mate in Game 2, when he hit a three-run walk-off homer to give the Red Sox a 6-3 win and put the Sox up, 2-0, with the series heading to Anaheim.
"Those guys are the best [No.] 3-4 combination in the big leagues," said Boston shortstop Julio Lugo. "Those guys come through in the clutch. That's why they're so good. They are our run producers. When tough times come, they come through for us. We just follow them."
Ace Josh Beckett, who pitched a shutout for the Red Sox in Game 1, smiled when asked how he would pitch to Ortiz and Ramirez.
"I don't know," he said. "Pretty tough, particularly the way they're both swinging the bat right now. There's no way you can walk both those guys to get to the next guy.
|With a solo home run in the fourth inning, Manny Ramirez is now tied for the most career postseason home runs.|
|Ramirez also has 52 postseason RBIs, third behind David Justice (63) and Bernie Williams (80).|
"Guys in the front are setting the table. Guys at the end are setting the table. And then we're getting those big guys up there."
Ortiz walked six times during the series while posting a .714 average (5-for-7) with two home runs and three RBIs, which likely would have put him at the head of the class if an MVP were chosen for the Division Series. Part of Ortiz's patience in taking the walk comes from the confidence he has in the giant hitting behind him, as Papi noted he had no problem taking his walks during the Angels series.
"In the playoffs, when you get somebody on base, sometime that might cost [the other team] later," Ortiz said.
On Friday night, the Angels walked Ortiz before Ramirez hit the game-winner. Ortiz was asked if he was "OK to let Manny do it."
The slugger smiled: "There you go."
Ortiz or Ramirez -- not a pleasant choice for opposing pitchers.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.