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Ortiz's words carry as much weight as his bat

Ortiz's words carry as much weight as his bat

Ortiz's words carry as much weight as his bat

ST. LOUIS -- Jonny Gomes was the story, Felix Doubront was the unsung hero -- and David Ortiz is the constant.

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On Sunday night, during the critical 4-2 victory in Game 4 of the World Series at Busch Stadium, the Red Sox's designated-hitter-turned-first-baseman provided yet another impactful performance when his team needed it most, going 3-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and a walk.

The Red Sox came into the night after a difficult walk-off loss in Game 3 and were in desperate need of a spark. Ortiz provided it with his bat. And if that wasn't enough, he gave the inspiring speech that -- coincidentally or not -- preceded Gomes' game-changing three-run homer.

"I'm one of the guys that have been here the longest," Ortiz said, now two wins away from his third World Series ring. "I've been in this situation before, and I know we have a better offensive team than what we've shown. When you're putting pressure on yourself and you're trying to overdo things, it doesn't always work."

Ortiz, a master at simplifying the complex, has hit a single-postseason, club-record-tying five homers in these playoffs and is 8-for-11 in this World Series -- and that doesn't even begin to sum up what he's meant to the Red Sox in October.

In Game 2 of the American League Division Series, Ortiz homered twice against Rays lefty David Price. In Game 2 of the AL Championship Series against the Tigers, he hit the grand slam that turned the tide. In each of the first two games of this Series, Ortiz went deep. And with a double and two singles in three at-bats in Game 4, he climbed into a tie for fifth for the highest slugging percentage in World Series history (.795).

Papi provides the pop
Highest slugging percentage in World Series history
Rank Player PA SLG
1. Barry Bonds 30 1.294
2. Willie Aikens 26 1.100
3. Amos Otis 26 .957
4. Troy Glaus 30 .846
5. (tie) David Ortiz 50 .795
5. (tie) Chase Utley 49 .795
7. Reggie Jackson 116 .755
8. Hideki Matsui 41 .750
9. Babe Ruth 167 .744
10. Lou Gehrig 150 .731

Through the first five innings, the Red Sox had only two hits and Ortiz had them both. He led off the second with an infield single on a liner off the foot of Cardinals starter Lance Lynn, then led off the fifth with a double and scored on Stephen Drew's sac fly to tie the game at 1.

Heading into the top of the sixth, Ortiz pulled his team together for a little pep talk -- before drawing a two-out walk and scoring on Gomes' three-run shot.

The message?

"You think you're going to come to the World Series every year, you're wrong," Ortiz recalled afterward. "Especially playing in the AL East. You know how many people we beat up to get to this level? A lot of good teams. That doesn't happen every year. I told them, 'It took me five years to get back on this stage, and we had better teams than what we have right now, and we never made it. Take advantage of being here.'"

Nobody has taken advantage of that more than the 37-year-old Ortiz. He's a .303 career hitter in 30 playoff games, provides timely pep talks, and he'll even play a little first base for you.

"That's why we call him 'Cooperstown,'" catcher David Ross said. "The guy does it every day."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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