BOSTON – David Ortiz might be 40, but his feet and ankles ache like they’re 70. So Red Sox manager John Farrell usually removes the slugger from games that are well in hand.
Not on Thursday. Ortiz’s RBI single in the seventh gave Boston a six-run lead. Yet he remained in the game.
He batted again in the eighth and … you can guess what happened.
Ortiz rocketed a two-run homer to right — the 527th home run of his career — for the final runs of the Red Sox’s 13-2 victory over the Twins at Fenway Park. Big Papi went 3-for-5 with four RBI to add to his gaudy career numbers against the team he broke into the majors with in 1997 but was released by after the 2002 season.
If this is how Ortiz, who’s retiring at the end of the season, is going to treat the Twins in the final series he plays against them, someone is in for a long weekend.
“His numbers against us over the years have been impressive,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “I got a glimpse of what he’s done against the Twins in the past.”
In 71 games against the Twins, Ortiz is batting .330 with 21 homers and 56 RBI. But he’s treating every team like they’re the Twins in his farewell season, batting .330 with 24 homers and 79 RBI.
The Twins weren’t his main motivation Thursday. Boston is an MLB-best 12-3 this month and a season-high 15 games over .500. And they moved into first place in the AL East on Wednesday, passing Baltimore.
“I’m feeling good at the plate,” Ortiz said. “I told [Farrell] if I get on base, just pinch run for me. Everything is going well right now. I’m feeling good at the plate and want to take advantage of it.”
Twins righthander Tyler Duffey did little to stop a team swinging with confidence. Boston scored three runs in the first inning — Mookie Betts hit the first pitch of the game for a home run — then scored three more in the third when the top of the order came around to bat again. Jackie Bradley Jr. knocked Duffey (5-7) out of the game in the third with an RBI double — one of Boston’s eight extra-base hits. Dustin Pedroia went 5-for-5 as part of a 17-hit Red Sox attack.
It was Duffey’s first career start in Fenway Park. He saw how quickly runs can be scored there and what 37,566 jubilant fans sound like on a warm summer night in Boston.
“They are all waiting on the edge of their seats for something awesome to happen,” said Duffey, who gave up six runs over 2⅔ innings, his shortest outing since his major league debut last Aug. 5 in Toronto.
Boston knuckleballer Steven Wright (12-5) retired the first 13 batters he faced before Max Kepler singled to left in the fifth. The Twins scored both of their runs in that inning, Kepler scoring on a groundout and Kennys Vargas rumbling home on a wild pitch, with Wright being charged with an error for dropping the throw. Wright went on to hold the Twins to one earned run over eight innings on four hits and one walk with nine strikeouts.
Back to the onslaught. Bradley homered off Michael Tonkin in the fifth. Buddy Boshers gave up two runs in the seventh. And Trevor May gave up four in the eighth, including Ortiz’s homer.
“It got ugly,” Molitor said. “We haven’t had a game like that in a while.”