Leon (HR, 2 2B) leads Red Sox to 8-3 win over Blue Jays
BOSTON — Red Sox manager Alex Cora doesn’t think about his team’s torrid start.
He wonders how much better it can be.
“We’re good right now, don’t get me wrong,” Cora said after Boston beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-3 on Tuesday night for its major league-leading 38th victory. “But we feel there’s room to improve. It’s fun right now, but I can’t wait.”
Sandy Leon hit a home run and two doubles, Xander Bogaerts also homered and Rick Porcello took a three-hitter into the seventh inning, helping the Red Sox match the second-best start in franchise history.
J.D. Martinez also had two of Boston’s six doubles as the Red Sox (38-17) won for the eighth time in 10 games. Only the 1946 Boston team that started 42-13 with Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr returning from World War II had a better start through 55 games.
Every batter in the Red Sox lineup had one hit by the sixth inning.
“That tells you right there everybody’s contributing,” said first baseman Mitch Moreland, who doubled in the first to make it 2-0. “It’s always nice to scratch it and put up a crooked number early. It helps (the pitcher) settle down.”
Porcello (7-2) allowed three runs, two earned, and five hits in 6 2/3 innings. Toronto loaded the bases against Hector Velazquez in the ninth, but Craig Kimbrel got two outs for his 17th save.
Marco Estrada (2-6) allowed four runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings, dropping his fifth straight decision since April 26. Justin Smoak homered for Toronto, which has lost 12 of its last 16 games.
The Blue Jays cut a 5-1 deficit in half in the seventh on a rally that started when Russell Martin was hit by a pitch with one out. With the bases loaded, Porcello fanned Luke Maile for the second out.
Curtis Granderson hit a hard grounder past a diving Moreland, but second baseman Dustin Pedroia slid to field it in shallow right. He threw to Porcello covering first, but the ball went off his glove for an error and rolled off the fence in front of the Boston dugout, allowing Morales to score and make it 5-3.
“I’ve got to catch that ball,” Porcello said. “Pedey made a hell of a play.”
Joe Kelly relieved Porcello and struck out Kevin Pillar on three pitches to end the inning.
Bogaerts homered over the Green Monster in the seventh, a solo shot, and Leon hit a two-run shot in the eighth to make it 8-3.
“They’ve got a good offense. They keep coming at you,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “We made a run late, had the bases loaded and they shut us down.”
ON THE BOARD
Pedroia got his first hit of the season in the sixth inning, a single to right. First base coach Tom Goodwin gave him a pat on the batting helmet, his teammates applauded in the dugout and the Fenway Park crowd gave him a big cheer.
The 2008 AL MVP started the season on the disabled list while he recovered from October knee surgery. He made his 2018 debut on Saturday and was 0 for 7 with two walks and a run in his first two games.
Martin was hit in the shoulder one pitch after calling time late in Porcello’s set with one out and nobody on in the seventh. The Blue Jays utility man stared menacingly at the mound, and home plate umpire Vic Carapazza and Leon moved between him and the pitcher, but Porcello just shrugged.
Martin took his base without further incident. But in the eighth, Kelly hit Teoscar Hernandez. And when Danny Barnes plunked Brock Holt to lead off the bottom half, there were warnings issued for both dugouts.
Blue Jays: 3B Josh Donaldson was out of the lineup one day after leaving the game with right calf soreness. Gibbons said he was hoping to have Donaldson back on Friday after Thursday’s off day. … SS Aledmys Diaz made a rehab appearance with Double-A New Hampshire as he tries to recover from the left ankle sprain that has kept him out since May 6.
Red Sox: OF Mookie Betts, who is leading the majors in batting average, OPS and runs, got a third straight day off with tightness in his left side. He is expected to take Wednesday off, too.
Blue Jays: RHP Sam Gaviglio (2-0, 2.30 ERA) starts Wednesday’s series finale against Boston.
Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (5-1, 4.02 ERA) will face the Blue Jays in the 1:05 p.m. start.