The Boston Red Sox’s normally red-hot offense has been a little cold to begin the 2017 season, but that hasn’t been the case for Boston’s newest additions.
Various ailments and injuries have prevented a handful the Red Sox’s best hitters from playing at their highest level in the first 11 games, with Andrew Benintendi currently batting .238, Mookie Betts batting .250 and Hanley Ramirez batting .241 after all three hitters went 0-for-4 in Boston’s 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday. But while that trio was expected to be a big part of continuing the Red Sox’s offensive production without David Ortiz, the guy who actually “replaced” Big Papi has been exceeding expectations.
Mitch Moreland went 3-for-4 on Saturday and was a triple shy of the cycle, including his first home run in a Red Sox uniform. The first baseman is batting .333 with a 1.036 OPS since starting the season 0-for-12 and hit his Major League Baseball-leading ninth double in the fourth inning, which is the most by a Red Sox hitter through 11 team games since 1913. Moreland scored both the Red Sox’s runs Saturday, too, after catcher Sandy Leon knocked him in on a groundout in the seventh.
Chris Sale also has been everything the Red Sox could have wanted him to be three starts in, earning his first win in a Boston uniform Sunday after striking out 12 batters over seven innings of one-run ball. Still, the left-hander has been a victim of low run support in his time with the Red Sox so far.
Of course, a lot can change over the course of 162 games, and there’s no reason to believe the Red Sox won’t heat up. They haven’t appeared to be showing up every game, but Boston’s offense still is averaging just over four runs per contest. Not to mention, Dustin Pedroia is batting .303 already, and Xander Bogaerts has a .393 average despite missing five games.
It hasn’t been the most exciting start for a team that’s favored to win the American League pennant, but it’s also way too early to write the Red Sox off. Plus, if you believe the Sox will start hitting bombs any day now, then it’s only an encouraging sign that the new guys have been standing up under the pressure of being in Boston.
Here are some more notes from Saturday’s win.
— Speaking of Sale, Saturday’s game marked his 21st outing with 12-plus strikeouts since 2012, which is more than any other pitcher in baseball. Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is second on that list with 13, so it doesn’t appear anyone will catch up to Sale soon. If you’re interested, you can watch Sale’s 12 strikeouts in 12 seconds here.
The only other Red Sox starting pitcher since 1913 with seven-plus innings pitched, two or fewer earned runs and seven-plus strikeouts in his first three games of a season was none other than Pedro Martinez.
— Closer Craig Kimbrel nearly had a three-strikeout ninth inning, but he settled for two K’s and a groundout when Logan Morrison hit Kimbrel’s 0-2 offering right to third baseman Pablo Sandoval. It was Kimbrel’s 23rd save in his last 23 save opportunities, which is the second-longest active streak in baseball. The 28-year-old also is a perfect 20 for 20 in save opportunities at Fenway Park.
— Saturday also was Jackie Robinson Day, and the Dodgers unveiled a statue of MLB’s first black player at Dodger Stadium ahead of their game against the Royals in Kansas City, where Robinson first played for the Negro leagues’ Monarchs before integration.
Betts and fellow Red Sox outfielder Chris Young also modeled the shirts that players around the league were wearing during pregame warmups.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images