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WORLD SERIES: Ortiz slugs his way to MVP

by BEN WALKER AP Baseball Writer on October 31, 2013 10:50 AM

BOSTON — Most Valuable Papi.

David Ortiz walked off with the World Series MVP prize Wednesday night, capping a dominant week in which he led the Boston Red Sox over St. Louis with a mix of power, patience and a most timely pep talk.

It was the crowning achievement in the career of Big Papi, now a three-time champion and the last link to the 2004 sweep over the Cardinals that ended an 86-year title drought.

After a while, the Cardinals simply gave up trying to get him out. Ortiz walked four times — three of them intentional — in the 6-1 win Wednesday night in Game 6 that clinched the championship.

When Ortiz came to the plate for the last time, in the eighth inning with the outcome safely in hand, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina stood up and spoke to him in the batter’s box. Molina softly patted Ortiz twice on the side, too.

Well done, pal.

Ortiz then watched four more wide ones and trotted to first base, having piled up totals that not even slow-pitch softball players dream about: He reached base a whopping 19 times in 25 plate appearances.

The sellout crowd at Fenway Park broke into thunderous chants of “MVP! MVP!” each time Ortiz batted. That’s quite a turnaround for the 37-year-old slugger who badly slumped in the AL championship.

Ortiz hit 11-for-16 (.688) with two home runs and six RBIs against the Cardinals, and just missed a grand slam when Carlos Beltran robbed him by reaching over the short bullpen wall. Ortiz also drew eight walks and legged out a few infield hits, helped by St. Louis second baseman Matt Carpenter playing way out in shallow right field.

Yet for all the impact he made swinging the bat in getting 11 of Boston’s 41 hits — or just standing there and watching the Cardinals pitch around him — Ortiz made an equally important contribution with his words.

With St. Louis leading the Series 2-1 and the Red Sox scuffling in Game 4, Ortiz called his bearded band together for an impromptu huddle in the dugout.

Ortiz said he merely told the guys to relax, stay loose and appreciate the moments. His teammates told a different story after Boston rallied to win.

“It was like 24 kindergartners looking up at their teacher. He got everyone’s attention and we looked him right in the eyes,” said Jonny Gomes, who answered with a winning home run. “That message was pretty powerful.”

That’s also what the Red Sox expect from their thumper. Whatever the Red Sox need, and whenever they need it, he’s ready.

As the Red Sox celebrated on the field after the final out, Ortiz was asked what it meant to win a third title. Easy, he answered.

“That means I’m getting old,” he said.

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