For David Ortiz, World Series pressure is nothing new.
For Carlos Beltran, it might be new, but apparently not daunting.
Perhaps it is the power of age. The oldest players in each of their respective line-ups seem to be the two most likely to deliver in the clutch.
Through the first three games of the World Series, Beltran, 36, the St Louis Cardinals right fielder, leads all hitters in the play-offs with 13 runs batted in. Ortiz, 37, the Boston Red Sox designated hitter and first baseman), has 12.
No one is even close.
“David is a game-changer,” said Boston’s veteran pitcher, Jake Peavy, during his pre-Game 3 press conference. “He’s as clutch as anybody I can remember playing with or against.”
The Dominican Republic native has been a Boston fixture since 2004, when his consecutive walk-off hits in Games 4 and 5 against the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series sparked the Sox to their historic comeback from an 0-3 deficit.
The Sox went on to win the 2004 World Series, as well as the 2007 title. In 79 post-season games, “Big Papi” has hit 17 home runs and driven in 59 runs.
This October, he hit two home runs against Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price in a Game 2 victory in the AL Division Series. His grand slam in Game 2 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers brought the sluggish Red Sox back to life.
He also hit home runs in each of the first two games against St Louis, and almost had another grand slam. Beltran was the reason he did not. The Cards outfielder robbed Ortiz in Game 1, but bruised his ribs on the fence and was replaced. St Louis worried needlessly.
Beltran returned in Game 2 and contributed two hits, including a run-scoring single as the Cardinals rallied to win. The veteran from Puerto Rico, who has been with five teams, had to wait 16 years to play in his first Series, but he already had a reputation as a post-season force. In 47 play-off games with the Houston Astros, New York Mets and Cardinals, he has 16 home runs and 38 runs batted in.
This month, in the National League play-offs, he drove home six runs against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round, then set the tone against the Los Angeles Dodgers with a walk-off hit in the 13th inning of Game 1.
“There’s not a person in the clubhouse, position player or pitcher, who doesn’t look up to him,” said the Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly, who suggested Beltran’s shared “wisdom” will one day make him an ideal manager.
But first, Beltran – and Ortiz – may have more legend-building to do.
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