After Scenic Lowell got, like, 57 hits in Monday night’s game, it seemed a no-brainer that Tito would ride the Mikey Express for last night’s second match-up with the Angels. But Tito, ever a master of trickery — ask DeMarlo Hale about the time Francona paid a hooker with a fistful of Monopoly dollars — put Ortiz in. And Papi promptly shit the bed, striking out twice and grounding into two double plays, one of which came when the Sox had the bases loaded and nobody out in a 1-1 lock. It was an ugly, nut-wrenching thing, and as Ortiz stumbled back to the dugout, the crowd’s disgust raining down on him, I realized I’d rather listen to Foghat’s entire back catalog in one sitting than watch Ortiz step to the plate in a critical moment.

I also realized I can never, ever boo the guy.

While it’s sad to see the Superman of 2004 and 2007 suddenly looking about as menacing as Casey Kasem, the way he carried the team when we needed him most during those championship seasons has earned him the lifetime mulligan in my book. Yeah, watching him flail away, hit into the shift and sink rallies like it’s his motherf$%king job frustrates me. Might even lead me to punch a wall or two. But I can’t boo the guy.

Dustin Pedroia, rapidly supplanting Commander Kick Ass as the team’s resident quote machine, has got Ortiz’s back as well:

“David’s fine,’’ Pedroia said. “He’s one of our teammates. It could have been me that hit into a double play. It happens to everybody, man. He’s had 60 at-bats. A couple years ago I had 60 at-bats, I was hitting .170, everyone was ready to kill me too. What happened? Laser show. Relax. I’m tired of looking at the NESN poll: ‘Why is David struggling?’ David’s fine. We believe in him. He came out of it last year, he’s going to come out of it this year. Put that in your poll. I’m going to go online and vote. Papi’s fine. Thanks for playing.’’

I can’t turn my back on the guy when he needs our support. So I’ll gladly get my ass in line for that laser show.