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White-hot Red Sox look to keep struggling O's down
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Latest Line: Baltimore +185 O/U: 6.5
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BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox are off to the best start in their 118-year history.

Safe to say the engine is clicking on all cylinders for new manager Alex Cora.

"Our offense is doing what it's doing, and our pitching and our defense is consistent. We're dangerous," Andrew Benintendi said after Saturday's 10-3 pasting of the Baltimore Orioles in the second game of a four-game series.

With two already in the bank, a three-game winning streak and 12-2 start to the season (12-1 since losing Opening Day), the Red Sox send ace Chris Sale to the mound to face Baltimore's top guy -- Dylan Bundy -- in what are supposed to be frigid conditions Sunday.

Sale and his fellow starters are 9-1 with a 2.08 ERA after Hector Velazquez pitched five innings and yielded two runs in Saturday's rout. Sale has only allowed two runs in his first 17 innings of the season.

While the starters and closer Craig Kimbrel have been great (other relief up and down), the bats have been ridiculous. After starting slow, they have scored six or more runs in seven straight games for the record-tying third time in franchise history. They have had innings of at least four runs in seven straight games and have scored 62 in the last seven.

Boston has scored 76 runs in the last 10 games, losing only one of those games.

"We have a lot of sluggers on this team," Cora said.

J.D. Martinez, who started the season 0-for-8, is 15-for-45 with 13 RBIs and seven extra base hits since. Hanley Ramirez, who returned to the lineup after missing almost two complete games with a wrist contusion, has driven in 15 for the season.

Cora liked the way his team looked in spring training but even he has to be surprised at 12-2.


"I've been saying it for a while -- we've been playing good baseball for a while, regardless of spring training," Cora said. "We're playing clean and fast and pitching. We're proud of what they're doing."

The Red Sox, who already have Xander Bogaerts on the disabled list, had a bit of a scare Saturday when Mookie Betts suffered a left foot contusion on a slide home and had to leave the game. X-rays were negative and Betts stayed in the game for a while after the injury. He will likely get the day off Sunday.

And now it's Sale turn as the skinny left-hander takes a 5-2 record and 2.88 lifetime ERA against the Orioles, who fell to 5-10 with Saturday's loss.

Bundy is a hard-luck 0-1 with an impressive 1.35 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 20 innings this season. He is 2-1 with a 3.57 ERA in six games (three starts) at Fenway and 3-4 with a 5.01 ERA lifetime against Boston.

Starters Chris Tillman and Alex Cobb have been pounded in the first two games of the season as Boston made short work of Cobb in his Orioles debut Saturday.

Baltimore is off to its worst start since opening 2-13 in 2010, and Saturday the Orioles had to place Jonathan Schoop on the disabled list with an oblique strain suffered during an at-bat Friday. It's reportedly a Grade 1 strain, which is good news.

"We knew we had to make room for Alex today. I wish it wasn't for Jon," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said before Saturday's game.

Cobb wasn't signed until late in spring training and worked his way back in the minor leagues before Saturday's unsuccessful debut.

"A lot of things change when you come from the minor leagues to the big leagues, even the weather that he came from," Showalter said. "We threw a lot of things at him today, and he never gave in. He's only going to get better and better."

Trey Mancini, the first Orioles player to reach base in his first nine games at Fenway since Don Baylor (1972-73), is 4-for-9 lifetime against Sale. Manny Machado is 5-for-14 with a home run.

Brock Holt is 5-for-8, Christian Vazquez 5-for-12 and Jackie Bradley Jr. 6-for-17 with a homer versus Bundy, who has allowed two home runs to Betts.