Red Sox

Bogaerts' grand slam, 6 RBI power Red Sox

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Bogaerts' grand slam, 6 RBI power Red Sox

BOSTON -- Xander Bogaerts kept up his powerful start that's helped the Boston Red Sox get off on a fast run.

On Saturday, a few more bats in the lineup joined in, too.

Bogaerts hit the first grand slam by a Boston player since the end of the 2016 season and drove in a career-best six runs to carry the Red Sox to a 10-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays for their seventh straight victory.

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"He's been an unbelievable hitter every year," winning pitcher Rick Porcello said. "Now he's doing it with power. He's a big threat at the plate. He always had that ability."

In addition to his slam, Bogaerts drove in two runs with his seventh double in eight games.

J.D. Martinez hit his first home run since signing a $110 million, five-year contract during spring training as a free agent. Rafael Devers also connected.

This is just the second time in franchise history that the Red Sox have lost their season opener and won the next seven. The other came in 1904 when Boston captured the AL pennant.

"We've been on and off. We know we're a good offensive team," new manager Alex Cora said.

"We can do that often. We feel we have a good offensive team. It's just a matter of time," he said.

The Rays have lost seven straight and are off to their worst start ever after rallying for a win at home over the Red Sox on opening day.

"Nobody's happy we're 1-7," manager Kevin Cash said.

Tampa Bay infielder Daniel Robertson pitched a perfect eighth with a two flyouts and a popup, throwing seven strikes in 11 pitches.

Porcello (2-0) gave up three runs and six hits, striking out seven without allowing a walk over 7 1/3 innings. He retired 20 of 21 batters - and 17 in a row - after giving up two runs in the first.

Bogaerts' two-run double helped erase a 2-0 deficit during a four-run first. In the second, his second career slam completely left Fenway Park over the Green Monster and came after Jake Faria (0-1) walked the bases full to make it 8-2.

"I really don't think he wanted to throw me an offspeed (pitch) right there," Bogaerts said. "I think the cold may have bothered him a little. I think he was a little bit erratic."

Faria gave up a career-high eight runs while getting just five outs. He only threw 34 strikes in 73 pitches.

"It's frustrating, it's embarrassing," he said. "I'm in the big leagues and I can't throw strikes to anybody."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rays: CF Kevin Kiermaier was out of the lineup because he was sick.

Red Sox: Cora said LHP Drew Pomeranz (strained left forearm flexor) was going to make a rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday and is planned to go five or six innings. Cora also said that it's "most likely" that he'd return to the rotation if things went well.

STREAK CONTINUES

The Red Sox have won 22 straight games when they give Porcello three or more runs. In his last 33 starts when they've scored three-plus, he's 28-0 with a 3.26 ERA.

THEY END

The last slam by a Red Sox player was by Dustin Pedroia on Sept. 24, 2016, on the road against the Rays when Porcello picked up his last victory of his AL Cy Young Award-winning 22-4 season.

Also, Boston's starters had held opponents to one or no runs in the first seven games before the Rays scored twice on Brad Miller's double in the first.

CHILLIN'

With morning temperatures in the upper 30s, most of Boston's players that took BP on the field wore winter hats or had hooded sweatshirts over their heads.

Pitchers that got their throwing in were bundled up in right field. OF Andrew Benintendi and a few other starters decided to hit inside instead.

The Rays didn't hit on the field.

UP NEXT

Rays: With another bullpen game scheduled Sunday, Cash said they should be fine after using three relievers on Saturday, but he didn't name a starter.

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez is set to make his 2018 debut. He's been on the disabled list since March 26th recovering from offseason right knee surgery.

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NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Hanley Ramirez making headlines the wrong way

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NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Hanley Ramirez making headlines the wrong way

1:29 - It was reported Friday that Hanley Ramirez has been linked to an ongoing, possible drug-related investigation. Evan Drellich joins Trenni Kusnierek and Mike Giardi from Fenway Park to break down what he knows about the situation.

6:56 - A. Sherrod Blakely sits down with Tom Giles and Danielle Trotta to explain why he’s not concerned about Celtics draft pick Robert Williams missing his first conference call with the media.

9:55 - Michael Holley, A. Sherrod Blakely and Adam Himmelsbach play a round of buy or sell surrounding the aftermath of Thursday’s draft results.

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Mitch Moreland comes through as envisioned without Hanley Ramirez

Mitch Moreland comes through as envisioned without Hanley Ramirez

BOSTON — The best acquisition of the Red Sox offseason was J.D. Martinez, who’s worth more money than they’re paying him. But Martinez is probably not the best value find of the winter. That title likely belongs to Mitch Moreland, making $6.5 million. 

When the Red Sox cut Ramirez, they also believed Moreland could cut it. The brain trust felt, hoped, that the overall drop-off going from Ramirez to Moreland would be negligible.

The exact circumstances of Ramirez’s departure from the Sox came into question Friday because of a report that Ramirez is tied to a criminal investigation into an alleged drug ring. Regardless of how that situation plays out — Sox manager Alex Cora said after Friday’s 14-10 win over the Mariners that he hoped the report was not true — the torch was passed to Moreland about a month ago.

The Sox’ general struggles against lefties can make the decision to let Ramirez go seem questionable (from a baseball standpoint, of course). But there was no struggle for the team on Friday against southpaw Wade LeBlanc, who came into the night with a 2.63 ERA and six days earlier tossed 7 2/3 shutout innings against the Sox. 

And overall, Moreland has indeed been sufficient in Ramirez’s absence.

Ramirez played his last game for the Sox on May 24. Since then, Moreland is hitting .280 with a   .343 on-base percentage and .484 slugging percentage, helped by a 3-for-5 performance on Friday night. Martinez (4-for-5) was the star of the evening, one of the best Sox wins of the year after starter Steven Wright allowed 10 runs. But Moreland, batting clean-up behind Martinez, tied a season-high with three hits. 

There was a brief rough patch in mid-June, a 4-for-32 skid in eight starts and 10 games that knocked down some of Moreland’s gaudy numbers. He’s still carrying the fourth-best OPS on the team since Ramirez’s departure, at .827. Nos. 1 and 2 are Andrew Benintendi, 1.059, and Martinez, 1.053. Those monsters have eight home runs apiece.

Moreland, carrying a five-game hit streak into Saturday, seems to thrive in the clean-up role, too. He’s batting .351 in 23 games in that spot this season.

It's a lot easier to forget Ramirez with Moreland raking like that in Ramirez's old spot.

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