Manager: Alex Cora (1st season)
Last 10 games: 9-1
Who to watch: RF Mookie Betts (.370 with 2 HR, 9 RBIs); 1B Hanley Ramirez (.357 with 2 HR, 12 RBIs); LF Andrew Benintendi (.231 with 5 RBIs, 11 BB); LHP Chris Sale (1-0, 1.06 ERA); RHP Craig Kimbrel (0.00 ERA, 4 saves)
Season series vs. Orioles: 1st meeting (9-10 in 2017)
April 13: RHP Chris Tillman (0-2) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (0-0), 7:10 p.m., MASN
April 14: RHP Alex Cobb (0-0) vs. TBD, 1:05 p.m., MASN
April 15: RHP Dylan Bundy (0-1) vs. LHP Chris Sale (1-0), 1:05 p.m., MASN
April 16: RHP Andrew Cashner (1-1) vs. TBD, 11:05 a.m., MASN
Inside the Red Sox:
If the Red Sox were to pack into a van and drive across the country, their bumper sticker would say one thing: “World Series or Bust.” Following an American League East crown in 2017, and an offseason with notable acquisitions including outfielder J.D. Martinez, expectations were sky high heading into this season. And a 10-2 start is suggesting this Boston squad is up to meeting those expectations.
The Red Sox are coming down off of an emotional three-game series against the Yankees. Boston took two out of three from its hated rival, and the saga included plenty of drama with a questionable slide at second base, followed by a benches-clearing brawl. Still, the Red Sox lineup packs plenty of punch and features a rare blend of power and speed. Right fielder Mookie Betts is off to a tremendous start, hitting .370 with a pair of home runs and nine RBIs (seven of which came during this most recent series). Pay attention to third baseman Rafael Devers. He may be just 21, but the young player is becoming someone to watch at the hot corner. He hit .284 a season ago and appears to be the Red Sox’s answer at that position for the foreseeable future. Hanley Ramirez, meanwhile, is enjoying an early bounceback campaign. The first baseman hit just .242 last season, but is hitting .357 with a team-leading 12 RBIs. Ramirez left Thursday’s game after being hit on the right wrist by a pitch from Yankees starter Sonny Gray, so there’s a chance he’ll miss some time to recover. On April 9, shortstop Xander Bogaerts suffered a small crack in a bone in his left ankle, and is expected to miss two weeks. Bogaerts had raced out to a terrific start, too, hitting .368 with seven doubles.
Former Orioles farmhand Eduardo Rodriguez starts for Boston in tonight’s series opener. Rodriguez was traded to the Red Sox in 2014 in exchange for reliever Andrew Miller and has pitched in Boston’s starting rotation the past three years. In his only start this season, Rodriguez allowed three earned runs in just 3 2/3 innings pitched, en route to a no decision. Sunday figures to be the highlight of the series, when Orioles ace Dylan Bundy faces Boston’s top hurler, Chris Sale. Sale has finished in the top five for Cy Young voting in the American League each of the last five years, and has been equally as impressive through three starts in 2018. Sale is 1-0 with a stingy 1.06 ERA this season. He’s allowed just one earned run and issued only three walks compared to 23 strikeouts. As for Saturday and Monday, the Red Sox starters are “to be determined.” David Price was scheduled to pitch in Monday’s series finale on Patriots’ Day, but left his last start after less than two innings due to numbness in his throwing hand. Manager Alex Cora is optimistic he’ll start Monday, but hasn’t made a decision one way or the other.
Leading the Red Sox in the bullpen is closer Craig Kimbrel. The 29-year-old is one of the top pitchers in baseball in the ninth inning, and has tallied 70 saves since moving to Boston before the start of the 2016 season. Along with Kimbrel, the unit boasts left-handers Heath Hembree and Matt Barnes.