BOSTON — It’s another good day for the Boston Red Sox when the biggest complaint is that David Ortiz did not hit for the cycle.

Already with a single, a double and a home run on the scorecard, Ortiz launched a ball toward the Fenway Park center-field triangle in the eighth inning.

“When I went around first base, I saw everybody going crazy,” Ortiz said. “I was like, I better get it going.”

But the ball bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double.

It was one of 12 hits the Red Sox recorded in a 5-2 win over the Cleveland Indians. Ortiz could shrug about missing the cycle, with a bigger picture in mind.

“When is the last time we had a lineup hitting like the way we are right now. It’s been a while, right?” he said.


This lineup is putting on a show. Call it “The Young and the Retiring.”

Ortiz, 40, continues to headline an offense featuring players in the early years of their careers. Ortiz, who his headed for retirement, went 4 for 4 Sunday, including a walk and three RBI.

“I wish he would’ve retired last year,” quipped his former manager, Cleveland’s Terry Francona. “He looks like he’s playing softball.”

Most of the Red Sox look that way.

If you wanted to be cynical about this Boston offense, it’s that the Red Sox had been beating up on the lousy pitching staffs of the Braves, A’s, Yankees and Astros, batting .325 with 7.6 runs per game.

Against the better pitching teams, Boston’s average drops 60 points, with just over four runs a game.


Boston Manager John Farrell was wary of Cleveland starter Danny Salazar, a right-hander with a 98 mph fastball, a 1.80 ERA and a league-leading .157 batting average against.

“He has a big arm, a good change-up, and a breaking ball to go along with it,” Farrell said before the game. “We’ll have our hands full today.”

If Farrell was setting us up for low expectations, they were quickly dashed when the Red Sox squared up for six hits and three runs in the first two innings. Salazar had allowed three earned runs only once in his previous eight starts.

The fourth run came on Ortiz’s swat of a 1-0 Salazar fastball in the fifth inning, which sailed over the Indians bullpen.

While Francona can only remember the good old days of managing Ortiz, Farrell is enjoying the moment.

“The timing is outstanding, the power is obvious,” he said.


As for those young players …

Jackie Bradley Jr., 26, extended his hitting streak to 27 games with a single. He went 1 for 3, dropping his average to .342.

“See good pitches, put good swings on them, taking what they’re giving to me,” Bradley said.

Mookie Betts, 23, has had a slow start compared to everyone else but is batting .350 in his last 13 games, with six doubles, a triple and five home runs.

“He’s trusting his hands. They’re lightning-quick,” Farrell said. “He doesn’t get fooled because he is so quick. To have that kind of explosiveness at the leadoff spot jump-starts us.”

Then there’s Xander Bogaerts, who, in the shadow of Ortiz’s farewell tour and Bradley’s streak, is quietly leading the team in hitting with a .346 average. Bogaerts, 23, went 3 for 5, extending his own hitting steak to 16 games.


“He’s all over the baseball,” Farrell said. “Talk of Mookie’s hands, (Bogaerts’ are) in the same category.”

Travis Shaw, 26, went 0 for 4 but is still batting .305.

As a team, Boston is hitting .296 with an .844 OPS. How good is that? If you look at Boston’s three most recent World Series champions, the best numbers came from the 2004 team – .282/.832.

Francona called the Boston lineup “about as dangerous as you’re going to see. Whether, they sustain it or not, I don’t know.”

Farrell likes the potential for long-time success.

“We have young, athletic players that are durable; that’s what we’re living right now,” he said. “That’s a pretty good place for this organization to be in.”


And a good way for Ortiz to say goodbye.

“Very exciting,” Ortiz said. “I told you guys in spring training we were going to hit. I saw young, talented players with more confidence, working extremely hard.

“About hitting, I know a little bit … I saw it coming.”


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