Baseball is a 162-game season, but not 40 games in David Ortiz appeared to be a lost cause. Despite hitting near the Mendoza Line, Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona remained confident in his aging slugger, not ready to bench the player that had carried the team for so many years.

His confidence has since paid off, as Ortiz’s confidence has become just as strong. He has been hitting of late, having entered Boston’s series opener against the Detroit Tigers 10 for his last 30, and he only built upon that .300 batting average with another stellar day at the plate.

After Dustin Pedroia launched a first inning, two-run home run off Tigers starter Max Scherzer , two reached in front of Ortiz to give Boston a chance of putting up a big number early.

He took three balls to begin the at-bat, fouled back a fourth fastball, then made Scherzer pay for firing in a fifth, demolishing the offering 450 feet to right-center field . He stoically posed, knowing immediately the ball was gone. A three-run homer, his fifth blast of the season.

His second appearance against Scherzer was longer than the first, but the result was the same. Leading off the fourth, he worked the count full by taking a fastball inside.

Scherzer, equipped with two pitches, that fastball and a changeup, spun the latter then fired in the former, but Ortiz guessed right both times, fouling them back to remain alive. He guessed right again on the eighth pitch, an inside fastball, and this time got all of it, thunderously booming the regrettable pitch deep down the right field line. His second bomb of the contest gave the Sox a convincing 6-1 lead.

He would produce no more at the plate, striking out in his final two at-bats, but what he did do spoke volumes. One hundred and twenty-six games remain, and this is just one fantastic performance by Ortiz, but as his demeanor afterwards, as documented by the Boston Globe ‘s Peter Abraham , many more may be to come:

“David Ortiz, as you might expect, was in a good mood tonight.

Question: ‘Can you go over those two at-bats?’

Ortiz: ‘Fastball. Gone.’

Asked to expand a bit on that answer, Ortiz smiled.

‘Yeah, I’m feeling good. Swinging the bat, seeing the ball and hit it, my man. There’s people that know a lot about the game, they think they have everything figured out. You tell them the season is not over after April. It’s over after October,’ he said.

With that, Ortiz started to walk away from his locker. But he had one final comment over his shoulder.

‘Laser show, like Pedey said,’ he offered.

Dustin Pedroia, sitting at a nearby locker, started to cackle.

That’s four of five, eight of 11 and 15 of 23 for the Red Sox. Call the florist, the wake has been canceled. They’re 5.5 games behind the [Tampa Bay] Rays with 126 games left.”

And if Ortiz can be Big Papi with regularity, meaning a continued return to a form that wowed the crowds at Fenway Park for so many years, the Red Sox chances will exponentially increase in their quest of competing in the fiercely competitive American League East.

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