BOSTON -- Xander Bogaerts and the Red Sox still had another seven innings to play, but the damage had already been done. Boston's shortstop put his team en route to a 10-3 romp of the Rays with two big swings in the first two innings on Saturday afternoon at Fenway
BOSTON -- Xander Bogaerts and the Red Sox still had another seven innings to play, but the damage had already been done. Boston's shortstop put his team en route to a 10-3 romp of the Rays with two big swings in the first two innings on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.
Such an outburst -- a two-run double, a grand slam and a career-high-tying six RBIs -- was fitting for the rejuvenated right-handed hitter, who has simply tormented the Rays in a six-game stretch (.458, seven doubles, two homers, nine RBIs) that started on Opening Day.
Grand slams mean 40% off pizza
As for the Rays, this was not supposed to be one of their "bullpen days," but Bogaerts essentially turned it into one. After his slam, the Red Sox already had an 8-2 lead, and Jake Faria (1 2/3 innings, 5 H, 8 ER) was just about done.
The Red Sox have won seven in a row, while the Rays have lost that same number and are thankful that Sunday is the last they will see of Bogaerts until May 22.
"I'm just trying to put up good at-bats, trying to see the ball as good as possible, put on some good swings, and continue with focus," Bogaerts said.
Bogaerts' focus is laser-like at the moment. Seeing the ball well? To Bogaerts, it probably looks more like a beach ball these days. The grand slam was the second of his career.
"Bogey, not enough can be said about him the way he's been swinging it lately," J.D. Martinez said. "He's been pretty much carrying us this past week or so."
Martinez got into the act as well in the seventh, clubbing his first home run -- a solo blast -- since signing a five-year, $110 million contract to join the Red Sox in February. Two batters later, Rafael Devers tore into one to right for the third Red Sox homer of the day.
The beneficiary of all that offense was right-hander Rick Porcello, who cruised to his second straight win. The righty gave up two runs in the first but no more for the rest of his outing, lasting 7 1/3 innings while walking none and striking out seven.
Much like Bogaerts, Porcello (2-0, 2.84 ERA) seems primed to have a comeback season.
"I don't know why you have to keep talking about last year," quipped Porcello. "But no, I feel good and keep it rolling."
All the subplots were nice, but the story of the day was Bogaerts and that early outburst. The slam had an exit velocity of 109.9 mph, a launch angle of 30 degrees and a projected distance of 425 feet, per Statcast™. It was also the second barrel of the game for Bogaerts and his sixth of his season, matching his total from 2017.
"He's been an unbelievable hitter every year. Now he's got the power, so he's a big threat at the plate," Porcello said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sunshine creates break for Hanley: With runners on first and second and nobody out in the first, Hanley Ramirez hit a little looper into short left field. Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria went back for what looked to be a routine out, but he was instead blinded by the sun and the ball dropped in for a hit. A four-run rally ensued, setting the tone for the Rays.
"We got away with one with the ball Hanley hit, the sun ball; it's a hit," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "From there, we took off, and we can do that. I think we can do that often. We feel we have a good offensive team, and it's just a matter of time." More >
J.D.'s first homer a missile: Martinez did not get cheated on his first Fenway Park homer. The right-handed-hitting slugger mashed the ball at an exit velocity of 109.4 mph and a projected distance of 425 feet, nearly matching the figures on the slam by Bogaerts.
"It was nice. It was cool," Martinez said. "It was definitely a relief to finally get the first one out of the way. Just to do it here at home was fun." More >
"[My] thoughts on this team? Composed. Relaxed. Chilling. Hanging out. Everybody is hungry. Everyone just goes out and plays. This is a very loose team, a loose clubhouse. I think Alex does a great job of that. We're 7-1, but it really doesn't feel like we're 7-1. It just feels like we're playing baseball right now."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cora became the third manager in Red Sox history to begin his tenure with a 7-1 mark, joining Ed Barrow (1918) and Joe Morgan ('88).
Eduardo Rodriguez makes his 2018 debut in Sunday's finale of the three-game series against the Rays. The talented lefty opened the season on the disabled list but is now fully recovered from offseason right knee surgery. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET, as the Red Sox go after their eighth straight victory.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.