Red Sox Are 12-2 for the First Time in Franchise History
By Jason Mastrodonato
BOSTON -- He’s 34 years old and coming off one of his worst seasons. He needed shoulder surgery in October and it was uncertain if he would even get regular playing time. But Hanley Ramirez has led the Red Sox to the best start in franchise history.
Not even a fastball to the hands could interrupt his momentum.
Two days after a hit-by-pitch forced him to exit the game early, Ramirez returned to the lineup and went 2-for-5 with a double, a home run and three RBI in the Sox’ 10-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles yesterday.
Ramirez is now hitting .362 with a 1.032 OPS and three doubles, three homers, three stolen bases and an MLB-high 15 RBI.
The Red Sox are 12-2, their best-ever start through 14 games.
“After the surgery I felt like a release -- my shoulder was free and I knew right away I was going to be able to do whatever I want,” Ramirez said. “The lineup is good. Everybody, 25 guys from the bullpen to offense. Right now we are doing everything right and having fun.”
Their starting pitching continues to shine. This time Hector Velazquez took the mound and fired five innings of two-run ball after spending the last 10 days in the bullpen.
The six starters the Sox have used through 14 games have combined to post a 2.08 ERA, easily the best in the majors.
Velazquez kept the O’s scoreless until the fifth inning. By then, the Red Sox offense had already put up eight runs.
What a difference a week makes; they began the year scoring just 21 runs in their first seven games, but came home to Fenway Park and have since been on fire, putting up 62 runs in their past seven games.
Alex Cobb made his first start of the season since signing as a free agent with the Orioles and was not sharp.
Andrew Benintendi drove in Mookie Betts with a double off the Wall to start it in the first inning. Betts got hurt in a home plate collision and later had to leave the game with a foot bruise.
Behind Benintendi, Ramirez stepped up and jacked a hanging slider over the Green Monster for a no-doubter.
President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski fielded questions about Ramirez as early as the general managers’ meetings last November. Many wondered why the Red Sox were going to rely on an aging designated hitter coming off a down year. But Dombrowski signed only Mitch Moreland until spring training, then added J.D. Martinez in February.
By then, manager Alex Cora had already decided that Ramirez was going to be the team’s No.?3 hitter.
“You know when you visit someone and they’re like confident and they tell you things you want to hear?” Cora said yesterday.
“I still remember, I saw him in that clinic in Miami and he was doing his rehab and the first thing he said was, ‘You don’t have to worry about me. I’ll be fine.’ I’ll go back to last year. I saw him in October. Out of all the guys, for whatever reason, he was locked in and he was the guy we were really paying attention to because he was hitting line drives all over the place.
“When he’s locked in and healthy, he’s very dangerous.”
In the third inning, Martinez belted his third homer of the season and his first to right field at Fenway. Cobb left a hanging breaking ball up and Martinez flicked it into the Sox bullpen.
The Sox entered the day with an MLB-best 39 doubles and added four more, including an RBI double by Ramirez in a four-run fourth inning.
“I’m not saying that (Fenway Park) is an advantage for us, but we’ve got some guys that can drive the ball all over the place,” Cora said. “You saw J.D. going to right, that was impressive. To shoot the ball the other way and hit it off the wall, we’ve got a lot of sluggers in our lineup, so it’s a good stadium for us to hit.”
Blake Swihart replaced Betts and went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.
Brock Holt and Tzu-Wei Lin each added two hits from the bottom two spots in the order.
“I think you can always play better, you can find those little things you need to work on, but yeah we’re hot right now,” Benintendi said.