BOSTON -- At-bats looked more like batting practice swings and groundouts were met with severe disappointment -- but only because they were missed opportunities for glory. The game was never close.
In the midst of a 17-5 win Tuesday over the Texas Rangers in which the Red Sox had 19 hits, David Ortiz, at least for a moment, looked like a kid out there.
It was the second inning and the Red Sox were already up 3-0 while Rangers pitcher Justin Grimm was struggling to get outs. Ortiz, who had already doubled high off the left-field wall, crushed a ball into the right-center-field gap.
He hadn't tripled in more than two years, and while he started running at a decent pace, he showed no sign of urgency, as if the triple was such an evasive result for a 37-year-old with a recent foot injury that the mere thought of it was exhausting.
But then the ball scooted past center fielder Leonys Martin and right fielder Nelson Cruz, the crowd started to roar and Ortiz took notice. Suddenly the 6-foot-4, 230-pound designated hitter went from jog to sprint. His quick feet churning beneath powerful legs, Ortiz rounded second and looked for third, slamming into the dirt as he slid toward the bag for his first triple since April 11, 2011.
"My legs have been feeling good, and whenever I can take my chance, I take my chance," Ortiz said.
Running from home to third in 12 seconds may not have taken his breath away, but what happened next did.
Ortiz hardly had time to wipe the dirt off his pants before Mike Napoli sent the first pitch he saw high into the air in left field. Ortiz tagged from third, crossed home plate and took a few steps before halting his movement completely.
In the middle of the field, Ortiz bent over, put his hands on his knees, hung his head and let himself catch his breath.
"We're not going to confuse him for a basestealer," manager John Farrell said. "At the same time, it speaks volumes to the work that he's done to get himself healthy. It also speaks loud of the attitude he goes about each and every game. He's hustling right out of the box. We're not typically going to see him stretch a double into a triple like he did tonight. But he's playing with a lot of life, he's playing with a lot of enthusiasm. That is the overriding attitude that's in that group downstairs."
Ortiz had ran 360 feet, driven in two runs and scored another in about 60 seconds.
It was that kind of night for the Red Sox.
"It's just fun to be a part of that," said Daniel Nava, who was again solid out of the leadoff spot, going 2-for-3 with a walk and RBI while scoring four times. "The dugout was in a good mood."
A look up and down the order reveals a whole lot of tally marks as the Sox jumped all over the rookie Grimm, scoring eight runs in 1 2/3 innings before he was removed.
With a predominantly veteran lineup, the Sox have taken advantage of rookie pitchers this season, improving to 5-2 against them as seven rookie starters have combined for a 12.93 ERA.
The Red Sox scored runs in each of the first seven innings, as their 13 extra-base hits set a Rangers record for most allowed.
"Too many pitches in the middle of the plate and the Red Sox didn't miss them," Texas manager Ron Washington said.
Mike Carp was 3-for-4 with his fourth homer before getting ejected in the eighth after striking out against Rangers outfielder David Murphy, who was on the mound to save the bullpen.
"Anytime it's a position player, it makes for an interesting atmosphere," Carp said. "And getting tossed on top of that makes it that much more unbelievable."
Jarrod Saltalamacchia was 3-for-5 with his sixth homer. And Stephen Drew, who had gone hitless in 13 of his previous 20 games before Tuesday, went 4-for-5 with his fifth home run.
Jackie Bradley Jr., whose time with the club could be short as Shane Victorino nears a return from the disabled list, hit his first Major League home run, a towering shot into the right-field bullpen.
"It felt great to get the first one out of the way," said Bradley, who is 4-for-15 with two doubles and a homer since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. "Hopefully it's not the last."
On the mound, Ryan Dempster was able to minimize damage, pitching seven strong innings while allowing three runs on five hits and one walk, striking out six. Dempster spent the final two months of the 2012 season with the Rangers, posting a 5.09 ERA over 12 starts before leaving for free agency, where the Red Sox plucked him for two years, $26.5-million.
"A little bit of an adrenaline rush," said Dempster, who improved to 3-6 with a 4.39 ERA this season. "You want to do well because I'm sure they want to do well off you too.
"I had a good fastball, good command. The pitches I got burned on were hanging sliders. Other than that, I felt in command for the most part."