J.D. Martinez is once again locked in and engaged — very much to the benefit of the Boston Red Sox.
Martinez had another fine day Monday, as the Sox rolled over the Chicago White Sox 11-4 in the annual Patriots’ Day matinee at Fenway Park.
Clearly, Martinez has put his terrible 2020 season behind him. The DH went 3-for-5 Monday with a towering home run and a pair of RBIs as the Red Sox salvaged a series split. He now has 20 RBIs on the season, which lead all of baseball. His .800 slugging percentage leads the American League, and only Braves superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. has more home runs.
It’s arguably the best start of Martinez’s impressive career. He’s just two RBIs from tying his own personal best of 22 runs driven in prior to May 1, and the Sox have 10 more games before the month ends.
Here are more notes from Monday’s series-splitting win for the Red Sox.
— The season is roughly 10 percent over, and the Red Sox have established themselves as one of the best teams in baseball so far. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers have more wins, and Boston’s plus-28 run differential is the best in the AL again trailing only the reigning World Series champs in all of baseball.
— It wasn’t very difficult, but the Red Sox once again held an early lead. They’re 11-0 this season when leading at any point in a game, improving to 5-6 when the opponent scores the game’s first run.
— The Sox clearly fueled up for the early-morning start. Boston’s first six hitters reached base safely. It’s the first time since 2003 the Red Sox started a game with six straight hits (Boston won that game 25-8). When it was all said and done, Boston put a six-pack up on the board in the first, sending Lucas Giolito to an early shower.
“We didn’t really hit the way we normally hit (Sunday) during the double-header, so somebody had to pay, I guess,” outfielder Enrique Hernandez told NESN after the game.
— The Red Sox certainly have taken advantage of the Patriots’ Day morning matinee over the years. Monday’s win improves the club’s record to 71-53 all time on Marathon Monday. Boston’s 11 runs tied for the second-biggest offensive output on Patriots’ Day. The Red Sox scored 12 twice — both times coming since 2005 — the most recent being in 2012.
— Nathan Eovaldi did all he needed to, limiting the damage in a shaky first inning and allowing his offense to take over. The hard-throwing right-hander went 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits while tying a career high with 10 strikeouts. It’s not the prettiest line, but again, Eovaldi was staked to the early lead and just pounded the strike zone.
“If the offense is swinging the bats, I want to get them back in the dugout as fast as possible,” Eovaldi told reporters after the game. “I don’t want to be falling behind against those hitters and have them standing around in the outfield or infield waiting for me to attack the zone. If I can go out there and get quick outs, pound the zone — when we’re up 6-1, I’m not worried about giving up runs, I’m worried about getting them back in the dugout and back hitting again.”
Eovaldi has gone 51 straight batters without issuing a walk (dating back to April 7) and hasn’t allowed a home run in his last six starts. He’s 6-1 with a 2.01 ERA in his last eight starts.
— Hernandez has come alive since a slow start in the first week of the season. He set the tone with a lead-off home run in the first inning, joining Ellis Burks as just the second Red Sox player to lead off a Patriots’ Day game with a dinger. Hernandez went 2-for-6 and is hitting .327 (16-for-49) with three home runs in his last 12 games.
— Christian Vazquez came alive with a three-hit day. His bunt single in the first inning snapped an 0-for-15 skid.
— Garrett Whitlock was basically unhittable again out of the Boston bullpen. The right-hander finished what Eovaldi started, pitching the final 2 2/3 frames. So far, so good for Whitlock, whom Boston plucked from the Yankees in the Rule 5 draft.
Speaking of the Yankees, New York is now five games back in the AL East after a historically bad start. They probably could use Whitlock right about now.