JD Martinez is a freak. To find the last Red Sox free agent signing where you had a player coming in with huge expectations for big money, and then those expectations were actually met and possibly exceeded, you’d have to go all the way back to December of 2000 when Dan Duquette, four Red Sox GMs ago, brought Manny Ramirez to Boston. That’s the last comparable Red Sox free agent signing in nearly two decades.
Martinez came into Sunday having homered four times in his last seven games, and eight times in his last 17 games. Then he hit two more in the series finale against the Orioles to bring his season total to a major league-leading 15, tied for first with Mookie Betts. The first one was a dinky little Pesky Pole homer that traveled 324 feet, so he made up for it with the second one, which he hammered to a part of the ballpark that you just never see home runs hit to. Like, ever. That one traveled 443 feet at 108.4 MPH. He hit the motherfucker on a line to the deepest part of Fenway Park.
After an 0-for-4 performance on April 12 against the Yankees, Martinez was hitting .227 with a .725 OPS. Since then, he’s hitting .382 with an 1.194 OPS. That batting average leads the majors, and his OPS is second to only Mookie Betts over that 34-game span. After going 2-for-4 with two homers and 3 RBI on Sunday, Martinez’s 41 RBI trail only Manny Machado for the major league lead by just one. He’s third in the majors in batting (.343), trailing Odubel Herrera by just one point for the runner-up spot, and his 1.077 OPS trails only Mookie (1.198) for the major league lead.
Eduardo Rodriguez looked really good against his former team, holding them scoreless over five and two thirds innings, scattering nine hits, striking out seven, but departed with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth. Heath Hembree came on in relief and got Trey Mancini to pop out to end the Orioles’ threat. The combination of Hembree (1.1 IP), Bobby Poyner (1.0 IP), and Brian Johnson (1.0) protected the shutout for Boston.
Andrew Benintendi also went deep in this game, one of his three hits on the day, and his second straight game with a home run. This is what happens when you share a lineup with Betts and Martinez, hands down the two best hitters in baseball this season. Benintendi has been hitting really well for nearly a month and just about nobody has noticed.
On April 25, Benintendi was hitting .218 with a .706 OPS through his first 21 games. Well, over his last 23 games, he’s hitting .340 with a .959 OPS. As far as Red Sox regulars go, only Betts and Martinez have been better, but they’re just on another planet from everyone else in the league right now. The fact that Benintendi is hitting the ball so well lately should make for an interesting decision for Alex Cora as far as the lineup card goes when Dustin Pedroia, the team’s usual No. 2 hitter, is set to return in the coming days.
The Red Sox are off on Monday, and then they head down to the Trop to take on the Tampa Bay Rays for what feels like the six thousandth time this season. In game one of three, it’s Chris Sale versus Jake Faria. Sale hasn’t lost a game in a month. Literally. Monday will mark one month since the last time Sale took an L. For all the times that the Red Sox have played Tampa this season, Sale has only faced them once and that came way back on Opening Day when he blanked them over six one-hit innings, while striking out nine.
Faria is a bum. He’s got an ERA over five this year. He’s faced the Red Sox twice and the Rays lost both games. The second time he faced the Red Sox, they lit him up like a Christmas tree for eight earned runs in an inning and two thirds. Two starts ago, he gave up seven earned runs to the Orioles, the team that the Red Sox just shutout with their number four starter and three of their lowest leverage relievers. He’s a bum. B-U-M, bum.
Red Sox take three of four from the Orioles (Remember when the Orioles took three of four from the Yankees? Embarrassing!) to keep their first place tie in the American League East.
Final score: Red Sox 5, Orioles 0