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Homers keep on coming for Red Sox

Boston Herald
May 20. 2018 10:39PM
Boston Red Sox right fielder J.D. Martinez rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the fifth inning at Fenway Park. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

BOSTON — The two players now tied atop the MLB leaderboard for home runs play for the team that finished last in the American League in home runs a year ago.

When it comes to J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts, think Todd Helton and Larry Walker, or Edgar Martinez and Alex Rodriguez, or David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.

The home run-clobbering 2018 Red Sox are nothing like the 2017 team.

Martinez hit his 14th and 15th homers of the season on Sunday afternoon, moving him into a tie with Betts for the MLB lead while propelling the Sox to a 5-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

The Red Sox (32-15) kept pace with the New York Yankees and remain tied in first place of the American League East.

This year, they’re doing it with the long ball. After Martinez homered twice and Andrew Benintendi launched his fifth, the Sox have 67 homers, the most in franchise history through 47 games.

It’s the first time they’ve ever had two players with 15 homers in the first 50 games of a season. The last team to feature two players with 15 homers through 47 games was the 2001 Rockies (Helton and Walker).

Betts hit his 15th on Saturday and Martinez led the charge Sunday, hitting two very different home runs that accounted for the first three runs in the game.

While it’s rare to see a fastball thrown inside on a right-handed hitter that gets roped to the opposite field for a homer, Martinez has done it multiple times this year, including once on Sunday. He got a 94-mph heater inside from David Hess, the Orioles rookie making his second career big league appearance, and bent it around Pesky’s Pole in right field for a shallow home run in the second inning.

In the fifth inning, Hess again threw an inside heater to Martinez, and this time he hit it square to dead-center field for a loud two-run blast.

Of his 15 homers, eight have been hit to right field, four to center and three to left.

Nine of his 15 homers have been hit at Fenway Park.

Some credit will go to Jackie Bradley Jr. for starting the rally. With a double down the right-field line to lead off the fifth inning, Bradley snapped a long slump to come through with his first extra-base hit since April 20. He had been 6-for-67 with 33 strikeouts in the month-long span without an extra-base hit.

Eduardo Rodriguez bounced back from an ugly outing to submit 5- 2/3 scoreless innings against an Orioles team that is just 14-32 and last in the league in on-base percentage. Rodriguez gave up nine hits but struck out seven and lowered his ERA to 4.13.

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