BOSTON (CBS) — Tuesday night may have been a chilly evening at Fenway Park, but the Boston bats were red-hot.
The Red Sox crushed the Yankees 14-1 to start a three-game set against their rivals, improving to 9-1 in the process. It was the top third of their lineup that set the tone for Boston, going 8-for-9 with eight runs scored, nine RBIs and five extra base hits.
Leadoff man Mookie Betts was a perfect 4-for-4 and reached base each of the five times he stepped to the plate, scoring five runs while driving in four. He capped off Boston’s offensive onslaught with a grand slam in the sixth inning, part of a nine-run explosion for Red Sox that inning. He’s the second Red Sox hitter in the last century to score five runs and hit a grand slam in the same game, and joins some pretty illustrious company with his big game coming against the Yankees. The only other player to accomplish such a feat against the Yanks was Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. back in 1996.
Driving in Betts throughout the night were Andrew Benintendi and Hanley Ramirez. Benintendi entered the evening hitting just .161, but snapped out of his slump in a big way by going 2-for-3 with a double, a triple, two runs scored and a pair of RBIs. He crushed whatever Luis Severino had to offer him, with his two-run triple in the second inning giving Boston a 3-0 lead at the time. He easily scored on a Ramirez broken bat RBI single.
Benintendi (who leads the AL with 11 walks) may not have that amazing hair anymore, but hopefully Tuesday night’s big night at the plate gets Boston’s No. 2 hitter going in the right direction.
The guy who follows Benny in the lineup has had very few issues to start the season. Ramirez continued a torrid stretch by driving in three runs and now leads the Red Sox (and all of baseball) with 11 RBIs on the season, all of which have come in the last six games. Ramirez has six multi-hit games in Boston’s last eight tilts, going 14-for-36 over that span.
They say offense is contagious, and that was certainly the case in the sixth inning. The Red Sox batted around as they plated nine runs against New York pitching, their biggest inning against their rival since Boston scored 11 in a frame back in 1998. After Brock Holt led off the inning with a ground out to first, Betts doubled to left field to get the rally started. Tommy Kahnle walked both Benintendi and Ramirez to load the bases, and J.D. Martinez followed with a deep blast to center field, missing a grand slam by just a few feet (welcome to Fenway Park, J.D.). Two runs scored to give Boston a 7-1 advantage at the time.
But they were far from done. Rafael Devers drove in Ramirez with a sac fly. Jackie Bradley Jr. got plunked and Eduardo Nunez walked to re-load the bases, and Christian Vazquez kept things going when he reached on an error by third baseman Miguel Andujar. Holt worked a free pass to plate Nunez and give the Red Sox a 10-1 lead, setting the stage for Betts’ slam.
With the count in his favor at 2-1, Betts rocketed a Chasen Shreve offering over the Green Monster, sending all of Fenway (including his teammates) into hysterics. The salami was the third for Betts in his career, with his five runs scored a new career-high.
Alex Cora decided shortly after being named Boston’s new manager that Betts would be his leadoff man, setting the tone for a potentially potent offense on a nightly basis. Betts has rewarded his new skipper by picking up at least one hit in nine of his 10 games played, including the last eight straight. His offensive outburst on Tuesday raised his season average to .432.
All of that was plenty for Chris Sale, who held New York to just one run (an Aaron Judge solo homer) while striking out eight. He picked up his first win of the season and first win against the Yankees in a Boston uniform, lowering his career ERA against New York to a minuscule 1.73.
The Red Sox started their season by racking up wins against the lowly Rays and Marlins, and some questioned if they could continue that hot start against better competition. Tuesday night’s offensive bombardment should silence those doubters for now.