OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Even with slugger J.D. Martinez getting a rare day off, the Boston Red Sox had more than enough power in their lineup to keep the best start in franchise history going.
Mitch Moreland hit a grand slam, Jackie Bradley Jr. added a three-run homer and the streaking Red Sox won their eighth in a row, beating the Oakland Athletics 7-3 on Friday night.
FIFTH grand slam of the season. Is that good? pic.twitter.com/9f2KFkrSdB
— Red Sox (@RedSox) April 21, 2018
Boston extended the best start in the franchise’s 118-year history, improving to a major league-leading 17-2. The Red Sox have won 17 of 18 since losing to Tampa Bay on opening day.
“They’re doing something special, let’s be honest,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “There’s a lot of people watching the team now and there’s a lot of people talking about the team. You can’t help it. You flip the channels and they’re talking about what’s going on.”
Hundreds of Boston fans decked in red showed up at the Oakland Coliseum. They saw Moreland hit the fifth grand slam by the Red Sox this season — they didn’t hit any last year.
Eduardo Nunez had three hits and scored while Hanley Ramirez singled twice for the Red Sox.
“Everybody in here is doing the same thing and it’s showed all year how well we’ve played,” Moreland said. “Everybody’s stepped up and done something to help the team win and that’s the reason we’re where we’re at.”
Jed Lowrie matched his career high with four hits for Oakland. Lowrie, who doubled in a run in the first, leads the majors in hits (32) and RBIs (22). The A’s had won four in a row.
“Just a consistent routine and taking good swings, putting together good at-bats every time up, every day,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.
Moreland homered on the first pitch from reliever Emilio Pagan in the sixth. Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Ramirez opened the inning with three consecutive singles off starter Kendall Graveman (0-4) before Moreland’s towering shot to right.
This is the first time the Red Sox have hit five slams before May 1.
“In that situation I’m just trying to go up and get a pitch up in the zone,” said Moreland, who has homered in each of his last four games at the Coliseum. “It just happened to be a slider that kind of popped of out of his hand and I was able to put a good swing on it.”
Bradley homered off Graveman in the second inning, his second in four games.
The power surge by the Red Sox was timely on a night starter Drew Pomeranz failed to make it out of the fourth inning in his season debut. Activated off the disabled list earlier in the day after recovering from a strained forearm, the left-hander struck out seven but allowed three runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Hector Velazquez (3-0) pitched three scoreless innings for the win. Boston also got a lift from Matt Barnes, who retired four batters and struck out pinch-hitter Matt Joyce with the bases loaded to end the seventh.
Crew chief review
Chad Pinder hit what appeared to be a two-run homer off Pomeranz in the first inning but first base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt ruled it foul after a few moments of uncertainty. Crew chief and home plate ump Brian Gorman called for a review and the foul call stood. Pinder struck out to end the inning.
The A’s dropped to 1-6 in games started by left-handed pitchers. Boston will also start lefties on Saturday and Sunday.
Graveman, Oakland’s opening day starter, pitched into the sixth and allowed six runs on seven hits. He has allowed seven home runs this season, tied with Cole Hamels of Texas for most in the majors.
Red Sox: Martinez was given a planned day off. Martinez has been Boston’s hottest hitter over the past two weeks while going 13 for 22 (.591) with four home runs. … LHP Bobby Poyner will make at least one more rehab start before the team decides whether or not to activate him off the DL. Poyner has been out since April 12 with a strained left hamstring. … RHP Marcus Walden was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room for Pomeranz.
Athletics: RHPs Chris Bassitt and Josh Lucas were recalled from Triple-A Nashville. LHP Daniel Coulombe was optioned down.
Boston’s Chris Sale (1-0, 1.23 ERA) faces Sean Manaea (2-2, 1.63 ERA) in matchup of lefties at the Coliseum on Saturday. Sale has yielded three runs and struck out 31 over 22 innings this season. Manaea has been Oakland’s most consistent pitcher, allowing two or fewer runs in each of his four starts.