Red Sox

Red Sox off to best start in 118-year history; beat Orioles, 10-3

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Red Sox off to best start in 118-year history; beat Orioles, 10-3

BOSTON -- Red Sox rookie manager Alex Cora cracked a smile when asked how he felt when he learned it was the best start in team history.

"I just heard it for the first time," Cora said after Boston beat the Baltimore Orioles 10-3 on Saturday to get to 12-2.

In 118 years, the Red Sox had never reached 10 games over .500 that soon. Only once - in 1918 - had Boston started 11-2.

"I've been saying it for a while - we've been playing good baseball for a while, regardless of spring training," Cora said. "We're playing clean and fast and pitching. We're proud of what they're doing."

Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run homer and drove in three runs, Andrew Benintendi had a two-run single and an RBI double, and J.D. Martinez homered for the Red Sox.

"Our offense is doing what it's doing, and our pitching and our defense is consistent. We're dangerous," Benintendi said.

Alex Cobb (0-1) was roughed up in his Orioles debut, giving up eight runs - seven earned - in 3 2/3 innings. He signed a $57-million, 4-year deal as a free agent on March 21 after spending all 11 years of his professional career in Tampa Bay's organization.

"Just a little rusty," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Physically, he's in good shape. He's only going to get better. Tough conditions and a really good-hitting club swinging the bat well right now."

Pedro Alvarez had a two-run homer for Baltimore, which has lost four of five.

Cobb felt he was ready and gave credit to Boston's hitters.

"We did all we could do," he said. "There is no replicating this. This is the best team in the world hitting right now, and you're never going to get ready for that."

Hector Velazquez (2-0) gave up two runs in five innings. Marcus Walden pitched the final three innings for his first big-league save.

The Red Sox started fast as they've done frequently this season. They scored three in the first before making an out.

Mookie Betts opened with a walk and raced around to score on Benintendi's double off the Green Monster, sliding ahead of a relay throw.

Ramirez then followed with his homer into the Monster seats, making it 3-0.

Martinez homered into Baltimore's bullpen in the third.

Boston broke it open and chased Cobb with four more, making it 8-0 in the fourth. Benintendi hit his two-run single. Ramirez added an RBI double and scored on shortstop Manny Machando's throwing error - his second of the game.

"We're doing everything right and having fun," Ramirez said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: 2B Jonathan Schoop was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right oblique. Showalter said it happened on his last at-bat in Friday's loss. "If you look at it, it was a little awkward," he said. ... Showalter also said OF Colby Rasmus (strained left hip flexor) likely won't be ready to come off the DL when he's eligible this week.

Red Sox: Betts bruised his left foot in a collision with catcher Chance Sisco's left shin guard when he scored in the first. He came out a few innings later. The team said X-rays were negative, but Cora said Betts will likely have Sunday off. ... Cora also said LHP Drew Pomeranz, recovering from a strained left forearm flexor since spring training, felt good after his second rehab start on Friday and could return to the rotation Thursday or Friday.

EAGER TO GO

Ramirez was back in the lineup after missing Friday's game with a bruised right wrist from getting hit by a pitch a night earlier.

"He actually beat me to the ballpark. That's a good sign," Cora joked.

SWITCH, NO PROBLEM

Jackie Bradley Jr. usually is Boston's center fielder. When Betts got hurt, he moved to right and made a headlong diving grab on Adam Jones' liner.

"Just saw it was pretty low and the only way I was going to catch it was if I left my feet," he said.

PICK SIX

The Red Sox have scored six or more runs in six straight games.

"We've got a lot of sluggers in that lineup," Cora said.

UP NEXT

Orioles: RHP Dylan Bundy (0-1, 1.35 ERA) is set to pitch Sunday. He's given up just three earned runs in his first three starts, but Baltimore has scored only five total on the days he's pitched.

Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale (1-0, 1.06) looks to continue to his strong start, having allowed only two runs in 17 innings.

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Red Sox bullpen runs into trouble with Twins in 6-2 loss

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USA TODAY Sports photo

Red Sox bullpen runs into trouble with Twins in 6-2 loss

MINNEAPOLIS -- Eduardo Escobar, yet again, gave the Minnesota Twins the go-ahead hit.

Two of them, of course. He's become a doubles machine.

With a two-base hit that drove in two runs off Chris Sale in the sixth inning and another that launched a four-run eighth, Escobar led for the Twins to a 6-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.

"I don't know if he can keep up that kind of torrid pace, but we're seeing a guy who is supremely confident," Twins manager Paul Molitor said.

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Robby Scott (0-1), just recalled from Triple-A, relieved Sale to start the eighth and walked the first two batters. Joe Kellyentered, and Escobar's one-out line drive bounced in front of Jackie Bradley Jr. and skipped past the center fielder as two runs scored. The official scorer later changed his ruling from a single to a double, giving Escobar a majors-leading 32 for the season. Robbie Grossman broke the game open with a two-run triple.

Escobar is on a season-long pace for 75 doubles, which would blow by Earl Webb's record of 67 doubles in 1931 for the Red Sox.

"Let me tell you: If they don't catch the ball I'm going to run to second base, 100 percent," Escobar said. "My mentality when I make contact with the ball is to run all the way to second base."

Escobar, who will be a free agent in the fall, has for the fourth straight season been slated for a utility role only to hit his way into regular duty after a setback in the infield. This year, injury and ineffectiveness for third baseman Miguel Sano paved Escobar's way into the everyday lineup.

"If he doesn't have a double a day, it's like a disappointment right now. He's unbelievable. He always finds a barrel," said teammate Trevor Hildenberger, who struck out American League RBI leader J.D. Martinez with runners at second and third to end the seventh after relieving Jose Berrios.

The Red Sox went 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base.

"Whenever you have a chance, you have to catch him," Boston manager Alex Cora said.

EVAN DRELLICH

MOUND MASTERY

The late surge masked a classic pitching duel between Sale and Berrios, the six-time All-Star against the budding ace. Sale retired the first 14 batters he faced before Ehire Adrianza's soft roller to Rafael Devers at third base went for an infield single.

With a two-out home run by Devers in the sixth off Berrios, the Red Sox were in control. All it took was a single by Ryan LaMarre and a hit by pitch for Joe Mauer, though, to start a rally in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Escobar drove a 1-1 slider near the dirt from Sale down the left-field line for a 2-1 lead. Escobar pumped his arms back and forth before clapping and pointing at his teammates in the dugout.

"You know this guy. Every pitch is nasty," said Escobar, once a minor league teammate of Sale's in the Chicago White Sox system. "I guess I made good contact."

Sale finished seven innings, the 12th time in 16 starts this season he has logged at least six. This was the 11th turn in which he's yielded two runs or fewer and his fifth double-digit strikeout performance. In his last three starts, he has allowed only 11 hits in 21 innings. Yet the Red Sox are only 8-8 with him on the mound.

"I'm not going to hang my head about it. I know these guys in here want to win. I know they're not doing anything different on my day," Sale said. "Maybe I'll bring popsicles or something for the boys."

REED RELIEF

Struggling Twins right-hander Addison Reed, who has appeared in only one of the previous six games, has been at least temporarily removed from his setup role. Zach Duke (3-2) took the eighth inning instead and, with two outs, surrendered Sandy Leon's tying single that drove in Devers.

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TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia, who has played in only three games this season because of inflammation in his left knee, has still not been cleared for baseball activities since returning to the DL three weeks ago. The lack of progress has been concerning, Cora acknowledged. "It was major surgery. We didn't know what to expect. So we are where we are now, hoping that, yeah, he'll be back. When? We don't know," Cora said.

Twins: RHP Ervin Santana, yet to appear this season because of a slow recovery from surgery on his middle finger, threw a 35-pitch bullpen session before the game. He'll face live hitters on Friday, another step forward after his setback last month.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: LHP David Price (8-4, 3.76 ERA) pitches Wednesday night. He is 6-0 in his last seven starts, with two runs or fewer allowed in all but one of those, when he gave up three runs. Price is 10-3 with a 2.52 ERA in his career against the Twins.

Twins: RHP Lance Lynn (4-5, 4.98 ERA) takes the mound in the middle game of the series. He's 3-1 with a 2.01 ERA over his last five turns, with a .195 batting average against him and 30 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings.

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Padres' asking price from Red Sox for reliever is reportedly Devers

Padres' asking price from Red Sox for reliever is reportedly Devers

The Red Sox are interested in upgrading their bullpen by the July 31 trade deadline, but in seeking Padres lefty closer Brad Hand, Jon Morosi of MLB Network and FOX Sports reports that Rafael Devers would be San Diego's asking price.

Hand, 28, leads the National League with 28 saves, has a 2.25 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 36 innings pitched. Devers (.240, 12 HR, 36 RBI), the 21-year-old third baseman mentioned in trade rumors for the Orioles' Manny Machado, has heated up lately - he hit his third homer on the road trip Tuesday.

On Monday, Morosi reported that with Dustin Pedroia still out as he recovers from offseason knee surgery, Colorado Rockies second baseman D.J. LeMahieu "could be a trade match" for the Red Sox. 

With Pedroia still experiencing pain and swelling in his knee and shut down from baseball activity, the Sox could be in the market for infield help. LeMahieu, 28, has seven homers, 23 RBI and a slash line of .281/.327/.453. The right-handed hitter is batting .351 against lefties. 

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