Recap of memorable Red Sox year: Springing forward in March, April
The Red Sox' historic season got off to a dark start: A 6-4 Opening Day loss to the Rays in which they blew a 4-0, eighth-inning lead. But it's been all sunshine from there, as the Sox rolled to the most victories in franchise history and the best record in MLB.
This week we'll take a month-by-month look at the Sox: Their record, where they stood in the standings at the end of the month, and the highlights. We start today with March/April.
RECORD: 21-7 (2-1 in March, 19-6 in April)
POSITION IN A.L. EAST ON APRIL 30: First
LEAD: Three games over Yankees
PICTURED: Craig Kimbrel celebrating a strikeout to end a 4-3 win over the Rays on April 29. He finished the month with seven saves and an 0.77 ERA. (AP Photo)
The Sox rebounded from their horrific Opening Day loss with three straight wins over the Rays, the last of which was authored by Hector Velazquez. With Drew Pomeranz (injury), Eduardo Rodriguez (injury) and Steven Wright (suspension) absent from the pitching staff, Velazquez played an important role in the Sox' fast start. He got the victory on this day (pictured, AP Photo), going 5 2/3 innings and allowing just one run while striking out five. He wound up going 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA in 22 innings in April.
PLENTY OF FIGHT
It's been a long time since the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry had some heat to it, but that changed on April 11. After the Yanks' Tyler Austin slid spikes high into Brock Holt in a play at second, Joe Kelly hit Austin in the back with a pitch and the brawl was on. Kelly got the better of Austin, side-stepping the Yankee and landing a couple punches before the two were separated. The Yanks got the win, but it was an early sign this season would have a little juice. (AP Photo)
Mookie Betts celebrates with Mitch Moreland after Moreland's grand slam on April 20 in a 7-3 victory in Oakland that completed Boston's 17-2 start -- the best in franchise history. The Red Sox are just the seventh team in the Modern Era to win at least 16 of their first 18 games. (A rare bad omen: Only two of the previous six won the World Series.) (AP Photo)
That April 20 victory over the A's also completed a 99-run ouburst in the 12-game stretch from April 7-20 . . . an outrageous pace of 1,337 runs over 162 games. Pictured: Mookie Betts and JD Martinez celebrate after Betts crosses home for one of Boston's 14 runs in a win against the Yankees on April 10. (AP Photo) Another weird twist: On April 21, the Sox were no-hit by Oakland's Sean Manaea.
Mookie Betts was all smiles on April 18 against the Los Angeles Angels when he homered three times in a 9-0 Sox rout. Betts' MVP campaign got off to a strong start (.367 BA, 1.255 OPS, 8 HR, 18 RBI, 10 2B, 29 R) in the first month of the season. (AP Photo)