The Sox are hot.
After getting swept at home to kick off the 2021 season by the Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox have not lost since, pushing their winning streak to six games with a sweep of those same Orioles to back up last week’s sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays. Over this three game set, Boston outscored the O’s 27-16, as their bats carried over the momentum that began against the Rays.
In Game 1 of the series, Eduardo Rodriguez made his long-awaited return to the Sox rotation. After missing last season following complications from his battle with COVID-19 and his first start of this season with dead arm, you wouldn’t have been able to tell if you didn’t already know that Rodriguez hadn’t pitched in a game that counted since September of 2019. The Red Sox got him an early lead thanks to a first inning homer from Rafael Devers. That homerun was an omen of things to come for the Red Sox, as the long ball was a key part of this sweep for Boston’s offense. However, Rodriguez gave it right back on a Ryan Mountcastle homerun in the bottom of the inning. The O’s would tack on another run, before the Boston offense turned on in the late innings to win by a 7-3 final. In his first game in well more than a year, Rodriguez would secure the win while only giving up those three runs over five innings.
Game 2 of the series would require extra innings, making it by far the most competitive game of the series. Once again, the Red Sox put up two runs in the top of the first to give Garrett Richards, who struggled last time out against Baltimore, an early cushion. However, just like in game 1 of the series, the Orioles immediately jumped back into the game thanks to the homerun ball, hitting two in the bottom of the first. One of those was by Trey Mancini, which was his first homerun since being diagnosed with colon cancer, which caused him to miss last season. The Orioles held a 4-3 lead going into the 9th inning, but with one out in the inning, Bobby Dalbec hit a hard grounder to short that had a chance at being a game-ending double play. But the young first baseman legged it out, Marwin Gonzalez scored, and the Red Sox tied the game at 4, sending it to extras.
In the 10th, the Sox immediately took advantage of the runner being placed at second base. With a runner in scoring position and no outs, the batter’s job is to get the ball in the air, and that’s exactly what Kiké Hernandez did. His sacrifice fly got Michael Chavis to third, and he would score on a wild pitch. Christian Vazquez would drive in an insurance run, and Boston claimed a 6-4 victory in extras.
In Game 3, the Sox showed what they can do when their bats get hot. All day long, they jumped on Orioles pitchers, and held a 10-1 lead after the top of the 6th. While Baltimore would make it a little more interesting by scoring three runs off of starter Nick Pivetta in the 6th and three more off Austin Brice in the 7th, the Red Sox were never in any danger of losing this game. Why, you ask? Because J.D. Martinez is one of the hottest hitters in the league right now, and he was absolutely on fire today. He mashed three homers, including this no-doubter to center, becoming just the fifth player ever to have a three homerun game with three different teams.
Martinez was terrible last year, driving in just 27 runs and hitting only 7 homeruns. In nine games this year, he already has 16 RBI and 5 round-trippers, putting him on pace to surpass last season’s numbers before the season is even a month old. That’s insane production, but any doubt that Martinez was on the decline after one down season has clearly been silenced already. While the whole Red Sox lineup joined in on the fun, another player who had a great day was Rafael Devers, as he blasted two homeruns to bring his total to four already.
That combination was somewhat historic for the Sox, becoming the first pair of Red Sox teammates to combine for five homeruns in a single game since Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez all the way back in 2002. In the end, a 14-9 victory boosted the Red Sox into sole possession of the AL East at 6-3, something that few may have predicted when they looked at projected standings.
Next up for Boston is a series against the Minnesota Twins, another team that has gotten off to a hot start thanks to their bats. Hopefully, the offense that Boston has found over the last week makes the plane ride to Minnesota, because if so this should be a series full of fireworks on both sides. First pitch on Monday is at 2:10pm.
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