After being swept at home by the Orioles in the first series of 2021, the Red Sox are back on track with back-to-back sweeps of the Rays and the O’s. The Sox are 6-3, tied for the best record in the American League.
The Red Sox have gotten prodigious offense up and down the lineup, but especially from J.D. Martinez, who is a torrid 17-for-36 (.472) with seven doubles, five home runs and 16 RBI over just eight games. Martinez has, in fact, recorded the most hits through the team’s first nine games of a season since Kevin Youkilis in 2009.
On Sunday, in the sweeping finale at Baltimore, Martinez—back in the lineup after missing a day to the COVID injury list—belted three solo home runs for the third time in his career. J.D. was cleared to play under Major League Baseball’s COVID protocols after he experienced what turned out to be symptoms of a cold the day before.
With his Sunday matinée, Martinez became the fifth Major League player with three home runs in games with three different teams (he did it also with the Diamondbacks and with the Tigers). The only other players to do that are Dave Kingman, Hall of Famer Johnny Mize, Alex Rodríguez, and Mark Teixeira.
Martinez is the first player in club history with at least one extra-base hit in the first seven games of the season and is just the fifth player in MLB history to do so. His 12 XBH are the most-ever by an American Leaguer through his first eight games of a season.
On Monday, Martinez was named American League Player of the Week presented by Chevrolet. It’s J.D.’s ninth such award overall, with seven of those coming in the AL. Martinez is just the third active player in the Majors with at least nine Player of the Week honors (also Albert Pujols and Justin Verlander).
With Rafael Devers‘ two home runs on Sunday the Red Sox became the first MLB team in 2021 to get multiple home runs from multiple players in the same game. It’s the first time that’s happened for Boston since June 1, 2016.
Prodigious Offense, Solid Pitching
The Red Sox are tied for the most doubles (25) in the major leagues, and lead their league in hits (93), runs (58) and AVG (.283). Only in walks has the team’s offense been a surprise, with the normally patient but now aggressive Sox batters, recording just 23 walks, the fewest in league.
The Red Sox have scored six or more runs and recorded 10 or more hits in each game of their six-game win streak. It’s the longest such streak since a seven-game stretch in May 2016.
At the same time, Boston pitching has been better than advertised, with a 3.29 FIP that’s fifth best in baseball. And while opponents have hit and had an on-base percentage that’s just a tick better than MLB average, Sox pitchers have limited damage with a .361 opponent slugging percentage that’s well below the .396 average.
Indeed, Sox pitchers have allowed the fewest home runs in the American League. On Sunday, reliever Austin Brice allowed the bullpen’s first home run of the season after the Boston pen had faced 189 consecutive batters (43.2 IP) without surrendering a home run.