Papi-cycle? Frozen rope nearly clinched it

Needing triple, Red Sox slugger's drive to center hops into stands for double

Papi-cycle? Frozen rope nearly clinched it

BOSTON -- In the final season of his illustrious 20-year career, David Ortiz has few things he's yet to accomplish. In Sunday's 5-2 win against the Indians, the Red Sox designated hitter nearly checked one more thing off that list.

With two outs in the eighth inning and the Red Sox leading by three, Ortiz strode to the plate a triple short of his first career cycle. He then proceeded to hit a laser into the triangle in center field, the most likely place at Fenway to hit a triple.

As luck would have it, the ball was hit so hard that it took one bounce and flew into the crowd for a ground-rule double.

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"When I hit it, it wasn't on my mind," Ortiz said. "But when I went around first base and I saw everybody going crazy, I was like 'Oh, I better get going.' But things happen for a reason."

Red Sox players and coaches in the dugout couldn't help but chuckle at the thought of Ortiz going for the triple.

"I was hoping the fan could slap it back in play," said Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who extended his hitting streak to 27 games, seven shy of the club record. "I think I heard him mutter, 'Man, it was going to be hard to go three with a flat tire.' We got a laugh out of that."

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Ortiz has one triple this season, a game-tying shot against the Astros on May 14.

Once the inning ended and Ortiz walked back to the dugout from second base, fans began chanting his name and teammates walked over to give him high-fives.

"We have the tunnel where everyone goes because the dugout is so small. Sometimes the guys watch it from in there. When I hit that ball, everyone came out of the dugout telling me to keep going," Ortiz said. "They said they were so disappointed when the ball went into the stands. It is the kind of moment where you have to try. You are up by three runs in the [eighth] inning, you hope to hit a triple. I was going to let it fly if the ball stayed in."

Ortiz was locked in against Indians starter Danny Salazar. He went 3-for-3 against the right-hander, belting an RBI single in the first inning, an RBI double in the second and a solo home run in the fifth.

"Finally, I got to face him one last time before he retires," Salazar said. "He's hot right now. When you get behind in the count, you know you have to come back to the middle to throw a strike. He's a guy that makes quick adjustments and I have to give him credit. He's a really talented player and he's been here for a long time. I have respect for him."

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Ortiz tied a career high with four hits and has eight home runs in his past 20 games.

With Sunday's performance, Ortiz has reached base in his past 28 games against the Indians, a streak that began Aug. 8, 2011. It marks the longest active streak against Cleveland.

"I wish he would've retired last year," Indians manager Terry Francona quipped. "He's kind of on a different level right now. It looks like he's playing softball. He doesn't swing at balls. And, the ones he swings at, man. Even the ones he fouls off, you kind of take a deep breath. We tried not to pitch to him whenever we could."

Quinn Roberts is a reporter based in Boston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.