The Red Sox have belted a major-league leading 68 home runs.
BOSTON — There’s a long way to go in the season – 115 games to be exact – but the long ball is back in vogue with the Red Sox.
J.D. Martinez belted two very different home runs and Andrew Benintendi deposited one into the Baltimore bullpen to power the Red Sox to a 5-0 win over the Orioles on a muggy Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park.
“I guess it’s one of those things right now where we’re driving the ball, getting the ball in the air and getting home runs,” Martinez said. “I can’t really explain it.”
The Red Sox have belted a major-league leading 68 home runs. That’s one more than Cleveland, although it should be noted the Indians had played three fewer games prior to facing the Houston Astros on Sunday night.
That’s also a club record for most homers through the first 47 games of a season, besting the slugging Sox of 1977 by one.
While no offense wants to be home-run dependent, manager Alex Cora knows firsthand how significant it is to have plenty of power production. He was bench coach of the Houston Astros last season when they finished second in the league in home runs and won the World Series.
“There were a few games where we felt we didn’t have a chance and all of a sudden somebody hit a two-run homer and then somebody else did it and all of a sudden you win the game,” Cora said.
“It feels with us it’s the same way. No matter what the score is, we have a chance to add on or come back because we have guys that can hit it out of the ballpark.”
The Red Sox are on pace to hit 234 homers. They hit 168 last season – their first without David Ortiz since 2002 – when they finished 27th in the majors and last in the American League.
Martinez is fueling the resurgence
The Red Sox waited out Martinez, who hit a career-high 42 homers in 106 games last season, and agent Scott Boras before the two sides finally agreed to a five-year, $110-million contract in late February.
Then the Red Sox waited seven games for Martinez to hit his first home run. That was one of five homers Martinez clouted in his first 27 games, putting him on pace for a 30-homer season.
Now the Red Sox can’t wait for Martinez to bat.
Following the eighth-multi homer game of his career and the first with the Red Sox, Martinez has 10 home runs in the past 18 games, including six in the past eight to boost his season total to 15. He’s on pace to smack a career-high 54.
Martinez is tied with Mookie Betts for the major-league lead, making the Red Sox the first team since the 2001 Colorado Rockies to have two players hit 15-plus homers through 47 games. So that’s something not even Ortiz and Manny Ramirez accomplished.
“The two guys I thought did it, Manny and David, never did it,” Cora said. “It’s fun to watch. There’s nothing else I can say, it’s fun to watch.”
Martinez gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead in the second when he wrapped a first-pitch offering from starter (and loser) David Hess around the Pesky Pole to open the inning. He was good-naturedly teased by his teammates for the short shot, which measured just 324 feet.
But Martinez left his teammates in awe in the fifth, when he drove a 1-0 fastball 443 feet to dead center to close out the scoring. That came two batters after Benintendi homered for the second straight game to make it 3-0.
Interestingly enough, nine of Martinez’s home runs have been to right field. The thought entering the season was Fenway’s vast expanse in right would rob the right-handed hitter of homers.
“I think it’s just mechanics and stuff that I work on,” Martinez said. “I try to stay inside the baseball as long as I can and when I hit it right, it’s usually that way.”