Betts produces 2 HRs, 6 RBIs in Red Sox’s rout of A’s
BOSTON — With David Ortiz retired, Mookie Betts is the guy in the Boston lineup most able to carry the Red Sox on his back for a prolonged period.
Perhaps that is starting to happen.
“I think tonight was maybe a snapshot of what we’ve seen the last couple of years from him, more consistently,” Boston manager John Farrell said after Betts delivered two homers and six RBIs to back Eduardo Rodriguez’s first win since May 26 as the Red Sox blasted the Oakland A’s 11-1 in the opener of a three-game series Tuesday night.
Betts, who has struggled without the Ortiz protection factor this season, hit his 19th homer of the year over the weekend, then tripled in two runs in a five-run second inning and hit two-run homers in the fourth and sixth innings.
He became the first Red Sox player to record two straight seasons of at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases.
“I think anytime you can hit a milestone like that you should be appreciative,” he said. “I am. It just shows the type of player I can be, that I strive to be.”
It was the 10th multi-homer game for Betts, and the 24-year-old’s third this season. Jim Rice has the most multi-homer games by a Boston player before turning 25 with 12.
“I don’t care about the home runs as much as just being consistent and RBIs,” Betts said. “I care about runs scored and RBIs. Those are the most important things to me.”
Betts, a .304 hitter coming into this season, raised his batting average to.264 with his 3-for-5 night.
Player and manager said Betts has been standing taller at the plate and letting pitches travel to him.
The Red Sox (82-62) moved four games ahead of the New York Yankees (78-66) atop the American League East. Boston also clinched its first back-to-back winning seasons since 2010-11.
Rodriguez, making his 12th start since his last victory, allowed one run on one hit and four walks in six innings. He struck out nine, tying his season high, to even his season record at 5-5 and his career mark at 18-18. Three relievers finished a three-hitter.
“He’s got that short-arm delivery and the ball gets on you a little bit quicker than you think,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “His changeup is kind of tough to track. He’s got a slider that sometimes it slides, sometimes it backs up. He’s just a tough guy, even when you know what’s coming, to get some good swings off of. He pitched well.”
Said Rodriguez: “When you see the guys go out there and start scoring runs, you just gotta keep the game right where it is. All I did was go out and try to put zeroes out there.”
Christian Vazquez, who came in with highest home batting average in the American League at .373, had two RBI hits and Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts each had three hits and drove in a run in the onslaught.
The loss ended a five-game winning streak for the last-place A’s (63-81). Oakland was coming off a four-game sweep of the Houston Astros by a combined 41-15.
The Red Sox knocked out A’s starter Sean Manaea (10-10) in 3 2/3 innings. He gave up seven runs on 11 hits.
In two career starts at Fenway Park, Manaea, who defeated the Red Sox in Oakland in May, has worked 6 1/3 innings, allowing 21 hits and 15 runs.
“It was in the back of my head. I kind of had nightmares coming to this place,” Manaea said. “Last year was a really, really rough start. Coming into today, I was hoping to get past that and do well against these guys. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.
“I’ve just got to keep working on things and hopefully next year be able to come back here and do well against these guys.”
Jed Lowrie’s RBI double gave the A’s a 1-0 lead in the first.
NOTES: Red Sox INF Eduardo Nunez, who left the Saturday game with what was then called a bruised right knee, has a sprain and will miss at least another week. ... The Tampa Bay Rays say they expect to be able to host the Red Sox in St. Petersburg this weekend. ... With 2018 schedules released Tuesday, the A’s open their 50th season at home against the Los Angeles Angels. Their April 17 game will be free to fans. The Red Sox open with five games in Florida, three at Tampa Bay and two at Miami — and play six of their first eight games against the Rays. ... It was 38 years ago Tuesday that Carl Yastrzemski collected his 3,000th hit, making him the first player with 3,000 hits and 400 homers. ... RHP Jharel Cotton pitches for the A’s on Wednesday against RHP Doug Fister, 5-2 with a 2.79 since replacing injured David Price in the rotation. Price is scheduled to throw another simulated game Wednesday.