By Saturday, however, it was clear to all that Ramirez -- who was hit on the right wrist by a pitch Thursday -- was OK. He wowed Cora and the Red Sox with a powerful all-fields display of batting practice on Saturday morning. He then smashed a two-run home run in the first inning and an RBI double in the fourth to propel the Red Sox to a 10-3 rout of the Orioles at Fenway Park. Boston improved to 12-2 -- the best start in franchise history.
"It's been good baseball for a while," Cora said. "We're proud of what they're doing right now."
Making his Orioles debut, Alex Cobb was tagged for eight runs (seven earned) in 3 2/3 innings pitched. It didn't take long for the Red Sox to get to him.
Mookie Betts led off the first inning with a walk. Andrew Benintendi then launched a double off the Green Monster in left-center field, bringing Betts around from first -- but not before he slid into one of the shinguards of Orioles catcher Chance Sisco. The ball got away and Betts scored, but Boston's best all-around player limped off the field and wound up leaving the game before the fourth inning. Betts was listed as day to day with a left foot contusion.
Fenway Park went quiet as fans watched Betts go to the clubhouse, but the ballpark woke up again when Ramirez smoked a wayward changeup from Cobb into the Monster seats for his third home run of the season.
Two innings later, J.D. Martinez jumped on a hanging curveball from Cobb and hit a home run into the Red Sox bullpen in right field, also his third home run of the season. Benintendi then drove in two more runs with a fourth-inning single.
"My mentality is to help the team out no matter what role they put me in, whether it's coming out of the bullpen or starting," Velazquez said through an interpreter. "That's what it's all about, preparing day by day physically or mentally to execute the job."
SOUND SMART Red Sox pitchers have yielded three or fewer runs in 11 of their 14 games so far this season. Entering play Saturday, the Indians were the only other team whose pitchers have allowed three or fewer runs at least 10 times.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS As part of the shuffle to replace Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. moved from center field to right field -- his first appearance in right since 2015. Bradley made a spectacular diving catch to rob Adam Jones of a hit on a line drive into the gap in right-center field in the sixth inning.
UP NEXT Chris Sale will take the ball on Jackie Robinson Day opposite Dylan Bundy and the Orioles at 1:05 p.m ET at Fenway Park. Sale has a 1.06 ERA through three starts, but Cora was coy about when he expects to push Sale into the seventh inning, or beyond 100 pitches for the first time this season.