BOSTON – Mookie Betts capped an epic 13-pitch-at-bat against Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ at Fenway Park on Thursday with a 108.3 mph, 407-foot Grand Slam over the Green Monster.
The Red Sox won again, 6-4. It was the tenth victory in a row and the 17th victory in 20 games.
"As everyone here knows, I know At-Bat for a long time," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "I mean, 13 places, that's really nothing, if there are 18 places, that's a long At-bat."
Cora's 18-man pitch against former Cubs hurler Matt Clement on May 12, 2004 ended in a two-run homer at the Dodger Stadium:
Cora obviously made jokes. Betts 13-Pitch at-bat impressed him. But he has a confident, cool attitude that does not go unnoticed.
Flash returned to the April 11 game in Fenway when Joe Kelly and Tyler Austin beat each other after Austin fell asleep hard in Brock Holt's second base
Cora was asked what he would have done in this game if he had covered a second base like Holt.
"Probably a double game," Cora said with a grin.
It's not arrogance, but it's a self-confidence inherited from Cora's match days. He behaves around his players like that and they have answered.
This is both the team of Cora and J. D. Martinez. Both were incredibly influential in the clubhouse. Cora mentioned June 28 how Martinez became the leader of the clubhouse. Of course, the in-house production of Martinez made a big difference.
Red Sox baseball team president Dave Dombrowski could not replace David Ortiz's performance last year, and the line-up suffered.
Martinez leads the majors with 28 homers. He also contributes to the sympathy of this team. Everything he says seems to be refreshingly straightforward.
"I think the city is starting to like this team," said Cora. "It's a sympathetic group, they play hard, they show up every day, and regardless of the results, they'll show up the next day, so it's good to see the place that way, very loud and into it."
The Red Sox have a historic start. They improved to 66-29 with their win against Toronto. They are three wins ahead of 2012 (69). They are five victories before their victory in 2014 (71).
It's the 13th of July!
Boston is at a remarkable 112-win pace.
To Relate This Season (so far) :
* The MLB season of 2018 started earlier than normal (March 29). But the 66 Red Sox victories are most likely ever by an MLB club before the All-Star Break.
* In just two other years, the Red Sox have 66 wins through their first 95 games: 1912 (66-29) and 1946 (196-27-2)
* The Red Sox from the year 2018 are only the 24th team of the modern era (from 1900) that could win 66 victories their first 95 games.
* It is the first time that the Red Sox had 37 games over 500 since September 30, 1949.
* Boston's positive 16268 difference is the highest through 95 games in the franchise history.
(Info from the Red Sox notes)
It's almost like Cora expects this kind of season by the way he has since spoken spring training – and after a 101-year regular season and He has talked all year about how he wants to keep his starter cup fresh and hot lthy for the postseason.
Which other manager talks about stoppage time before his team has won? Cora has mentioned it since March.
You must believe that he will carry the same confidence and attitude – the same expectation – with him into October.
Still, the Red Sox will need more than just a different setting to have another playoff fate in 2018.
They need home-based advantage, and they need a fresh Chris Sale that dominates as they did in the past five weeks.
Even at their 112-win pace, it will not be easy to gain home-field advantage. The Yankees, who are 3 1/2 games back, are not going anywhere. The AL East Race should come into the last week.
Dombrowski has to add another helper. Orioles & Zach Britton would fit perfectly. He can handle several innings and bridge the gap from the starters to the closer Craig Kimbrel.
There is still a long way to go and a lot to prove. The start pitching was miserable in the last two mail trees. But the attitude of this team feels different.