The Red Sox pride themselves in stringing together runs in multiple ways. It could be by the homer, the single through the right side, or the double in the gap. Or, perhaps, a good at-bat that works a pitch count up.
This year, they have honed in on hitting with men in scoring position, sometimes surrendering their own numbers at the expense of scoring a run. It’s how, in part, they’ve put together this productive start to the season. They have proven themselves to be complete hitters, accruing their runs in multiple ways.
Nevertheless, manager Alex Cora and hitting coach Tim Hyers don’t want their players to lose an aggressive approach. When the homer is there, take it.
In the 6-1 win over the Rangers on Friday, they flexed their homer muscles, with all six runs coming on the long ball.
“We can do that, too,” Cora said.
J.D. Martinez had four RBIs and two of Boston’s four home runs, and after scoring just a run in each of their last two games, the Red Sox established early offense.
The Red Sox jumped on Rangers starter Kohei Arihara in the top of the first, leadoff walks to Christian Arroyo and Alex Verdugo followed by Martinez’s first home run and a Xander Bogaerts solo shot. Martinez, taken out of Thursday’s contest with migraine symptoms, belted an Arihara offering to dead center for a solo homer in the third, registering his MLB-leading ninth of the season.
Martinez, who finished 3 for 4, became the fourth Red Sox to hit as many as nine homers before May, tying Manny Ramirez (2001) and falling one shy of the 10 from David Ortiz (2006, his franchise record 54-homer season) and Hanley Ramirez (2015).
“I’ve been doing well. Been hitting, been producing, and we’ve been winning. It’s been a great month,” Martinez said.
Two batters later, Rafael Devers hit a line drive, opposite field shot to left, the game’s scoring done in its first hour.
“That was impressive,” Cora said of Devers. “His batting practice [Thursday], it was phenomenal. We were talking about it today. He’s been able to stay back and drive the ball to left.”
Nate Eovaldi was fresh off his first underwhelming start of the season, when the righthander allowed five earned runs in five innings against the Mariners. Eovaldi is best when his fastball lives at the top of the zone, and he made that his point of attack Friday, striking out five in six innings with two walks.
“I had a good feel for my curveball today,” Eovaldi said. “And the splitter. Well, um, with those two pitches going down in the zone, it just kind of complements the fastball up, so I was able to get a couple strikeouts that way and a couple quick outs later in the game.”
The lone Texas run came in the second, on a Brock Holt single dumped into shallow right field. Holt’s hit scored Adolis García from second and helped lead to a 28-pitch inning, Eovaldi’s only rocky frame.
“I kind of let the second inning get to me a little bit,” Eovaldi said. “I felt like I was getting squeezed a little and I got to do a better job of letting those things go. I wasn’t attacking the zone.”
Josh Taylor allowed a lone single in relief of Eovaldi in the seventh. Darwinzon Hernandez continued his recent success by striking out three around an infield single in the eighth, and Austin Brice walked two before finishing it in the ninth.
The Red Sox finished April at 17-10, still sitting in first in the American League East.
“It was a great month,” Cora said. “A month that we struggled in a few things. We played well for a good period of time. But, knowing that this is just a start, we still have to keep working.”