Ortiz clobbered a pair of three-run homers against the Tigers at Fenway Park on Sunday, one to right field and one to left, and drove in a career-high seven runs to climb to 38th on the all-time RBI list in an 11-1 Red Sox win.
Ortiz had to settle for a huge embrace from the Fenway faithful, and after his second home run, he took a well-deserved curtain call as the crowd chanted "Papi, Papi."
"It may have inspired him some to see a close friend of his be honored in the way he was," manager John Farrell said. "Whether or not that is at the root of tonight, I'm sure there was some positive effect. But still, you look back over the last six or seven weeks, David has swung the bat extremely well."
In the fifth inning, Ortiz belted a Shane Greene slider over the right-field wall to give the Red Sox a 4-1 lead. With that swing, he tied Hall of Famer Al Kaline for 40th all-time in RBIs.
Ortiz added an RBI single in the sixth to match Harmon Killebrew and Rogers Hornsby -- two more Hall of Famers --- for 38th all-time. Then came the kicker, a second three-run blast to the opposite field in the seventh to extend the lead to 11-1.
With 1,587 RBIs, Ortiz now stands alone at No. 38. Among active players, only Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez have more. Sunday's home runs, meanwhile, bring Ortiz to 485 for his career, good for 29th all-time. He has 19 homers on the season.
Early in the season, some questioned whether the 39-year-old was losing bat speed. But Farrell and Ortiz both noted that timing, not bat speed, was the problem.
"I laugh whenever somebody talks to me about bat speed, because reality is the problem hitting today is not bat speed," Ortiz said. "It's being on time for whatever they throw you."
Ortiz was right on time Sunday, smacking the ball all over the field as the Red Sox broke out for a season-high 20 hits.
He may not hit the 15 more homers needed this season to reach 500, but Big Papi is well on his way to crafting a Hall of Fame resume.
"I hope he does -- that means he's going to really go off," Farrell said of Ortiz getting to 500. "Whether it's this year, next, whatever it may be, if he stays healthy, he's going to remain productive because of the work he puts in."
Aaron Leibowitz is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.