BOSTON -- They roared when Mookie Betts belted the 13th pitch of his at-bat for a grand slam. They stood and applauded when David Price walked off the mound after a strong bounceback performance.There are a lot of enjoyable things going on at Fenway Park these days, and the packed
BOSTON -- They roared when Mookie Betts belted the 13th pitch of his at-bat for a grand slam. They stood and applauded when David Price walked off the mound after a strong bounceback performance.
There are a lot of enjoyable things going on at Fenway Park these days, and the packed house of 37,182 was loving life on Thursday night while watching the sizzling Sox run their winning streak to a season-high 10 games by downing the Blue Jays, 6-4.
With their 66th win, the Red Sox set the record for the most victories prior to the All-Star break, and they maintained a 3 1/2-game lead over the Yankees -- who defeated the Indians on Thursday -- in the American League East.
"Like I said yesterday, it was loud here with Chris [Sale] on the mound, and you could feel it, and then that at-bat [with Betts] ... It was cool to see the fans standing up," said manager Alex Cora. "As soon as he hit that ball, this place went crazy. I think the city is starting to like this team. It's a likeable group."
Might the Red Sox be playing even better now than when they reeled off a 19-2 stretch to start the season?
"Yeah, it seems like everything is clicking right now," said Cora. "Offensively, defensively, pitching, the bullpen has been outstanding, the starters are going deep into games. Yeah, it feels that way."
Listen: Morning Lineup Podcast discusses the Red Sox's historic winning streak
After Price served up a two-run homer to Teoscar Hernandez in the top of the first, it was easy to wonder if his two-start slump would continue into a third outing.
But the lefty bounced back nicely and allowed just one run the rest of the night, on a homer by Kendrys Morales in the seventh. Overall, Price (10-6, 4.42 ERA) held the Jays to six hits and three runs over 6 2/3 quality innings, walking none and striking out eight.
"It was feel," Price said. "I felt like I had a pretty good changeup tonight, for the most part. Whenever I can have that good changeup, it kind of makes everything that much better. It's kind of like having that fastball command. If you can have one of those two, it's going to make all your other pitches better, so that's what we did tonight."
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Price had his rebound effort against the Blue Jays, a team he is now 20-3 against lifetime.
The game turned in the bottom of the fourth, when Betts engaged in his epic showdown with Jays lefty J.A. Happ and smashed one high over the Green Monster and onto Lansdowne Street for his fourth career slam, and the eighth by the Red Sox this season.
"It was one of the best hitters on the planet, Mookie Betts, with a 13-pitch at-bat," said Price. "Mookie got the best of him. Mookie has gotten a lot of big hits for us. Happ has been a guy who has controlled Mookie pretty well the last couple of years, so for Mookie to come out on top right there, that was big for our team."
It was the longest at-bat to end in a grand slam by any MLB player since Gary Scott did it in a 13-pitch at-bat for the Cubs against Phillies pitcher Kyle Abbott on April 20, 1992.
• Betts ends 13-pitch at-bat with a Monster slam
The joy on Betts' face as he rounded the bases won't soon be forgotten.
"Since I've been in the big leagues, that's probably the most excited I've been," said Betts. "Obviously, everyone was excited, so a big moment in the game, kind of swung everything around. It was definitely fun."
Fun has been a recurring theme for the team with the best record in baseball.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Betts' grand slam would never have happened if Jays first baseman Justin Smoak had been able to catch the foul ball down the first-base line on the fourth pitch of the at-bat. Smoak made a nice bid on a ball hit well over his head, but dropped it. Nine pitches later, Betts made the Blue Jays pay for the mistake.
"Yeah, I was hoping it was going to go foul," said Betts. "Once I saw it wasn't going to go in the stands, I was just hoping he wasn't going to get to it. He almost made a great play. Good effort for that ball."
No Red Sox player since at least 1988 had a home run on a pitch as long as 13 pitches until Betts turned the trick on Thursday. Dustin Pedroia (May 27, 2007) and Adrian Gonzalez (April 6, 2011) both homered on 12-pitch at-bats.
HE SAID IT
"Yeah, that was a very big moment. It's the most excited I've seen Mookie on the baseball field. There and his home run in Milwaukee [in 2017]. I say it to him all the time, I want to see that emotion again from Milwaukee. So I'm happy it came on my day the way it did today, and it was a good win for us." -- Price
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Red Sox got a break in addition to that dropped foul ball leading up to Betts' grand slam. Toronto shortstop Lourdes Gurriel Jr. tried to start a double play on a grounder by Brock Holt. Xander Bogaerts was originally called out at second, with Holt narrowly beating the throw at first to avoid the DP, but the Red Sox challenged the play, and after a delay of nearly three minutes, the call was overturned. According to the replay official, it was determined that second baseman Devon Travis didn't keep his foot on the bag while retrieving the throw. Everybody was safe.
After the play was overturned, Cora tipped his cap in tribute to scouting assistant J.T. Watkins, who advises the Red Sox which plays to challenge.
"All the credit goes to J.T.," said Cora. "He was actually the MVP of the game. He was the one that made the call right away. ... We've been a little bit unlucky lately with the challenges, but that changed the game right there, so give credit to him."
Rick Porcello, who is quietly having a strong season (11-3, 3.58 ERA), draws the start for Game 2 of this four-game series on Friday night at Fenway Park as the Sox try to run their winning streak to 11 games. Porcello struck out nine for the fourth time this season in his most recent start, allowing three runs over seven innings in a win over the Royals. The Blue Jays counter with lefty Ryan Borucki (0-1, 2.25 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.