The Red Sox once again are ahead of the Yankees by nine games after surviving a surge by the Bronx Bombers. Yet, the Sox batters’ recent success has been from the role players and not from either Manny Ramirez or David Ortiz. On the contrary, Ramirez and Ortiz have been hurting the offense. They have grounded into a ton of rally killing double plays and do not take pitches like the rest of the team. For instance, in the first inning of the Sox game today, both Julio Lugo and Dustin Pedroia put on very good at bats. They used up a combined 12 pitches form Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ starter Scott Kazmir and ended up both getting singles. Ortiz stepped up to the plate and on the first pitch grounded into a double play. Ramirez followed up with a weak ground out to the pitcher, also on the first pitch. Now the seventh inning is over, and the Sox still have no runs. Ramirez and Ortiz blew the Sox best chance to score. They killed a rally and let Kazmir out of a jam.
Ramirez and Ortiz’s lack of production in pressure situations is not an isolated incident. It happens in nearly every game at some point or another. In the twelve inning game last night, Ortiz and Ramirez came up in the eleventh inning with men on first and second and one out. Now, perfect situation for the Red Sox right? Nope. Ortiz looked horrible at the plate, swinging really late on two 86 mph “fastballs” before striking out. Ramirez did put a good swing on the ball, but ended up with nothing. This cannot happen against good teams, because they are not going to give the Sox another chance.
Ramirez and Ortiz’s stats are not bad, but that is because they beat up on bad pitching. Ramirez hits two home runs in 14-9 wins, but strikes out in 3-3 games. The rest of the team has picked up the two sluggers so far this year, but the Sox cannot rely on Lowell, Youkilis, and Varitek to win games. Manny and Papi must produce and Manager Terry Francona must shake up the line up. The season is more than half over and nothing has changed. Time to move players around and find a combination that gets Ortiz and Ramirez back to producing like Red Sox fans know they can. The Sox are not going to play Tampa Bay forever. When they start playing the Tigers and the Angels, the Red Sox cannot sacrifice opportunities and need to find a batting order that will work.