BOSTON (AP) – Mookie Betts can’t pinpoint exactly what has changed about his swing lately. The Red Sox right fielder just knows it’s starting to feel pretty good.
Betts hit two home runs and a two-run triple, and Boston rolled past the Oakland Athletics 11-1 on Tuesday night.
The Red Sox, winners of five of their last six, pushed their American League East lead back to four games over the Yankees following New York’s loss to 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay.
Betts went 3 for 5 with six RBIs. He’s driven in three runs or more in a team-high 11 games.
“I think this is the most consistent I’ve been,” he said. “This is the time where things are a little more magnified due to the playoff race. If I am more relaxed, then that’s good.”
The loss snapped a five-game win streak for the A’s, who scored 41 runs in a four-game sweep of the AL West-leading Houston Astros. They managed just one run and one hit off Eduardo Rodriguez (5-5), who struck out nine over six innings.
In his second career start at Fenway Park, Sean Manaea (10-10) was pulled after giving up seven earned runs on 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings. Last season, he allowed eight runs over 2 2/3 innings in Boston.
“Just falling behind guys,” Manaea said. “When I did throw a strike, it was kind of right down the middle.”
The Red Sox scored at least nine runs for the third time in four games.
Boston blew the game open with a five-run second inning, getting RBI singles from Xander Bogaerts, Christian Vazquez and Dustin Pedroia before Betts cleared the bases with his triple.
“Offensively a very good night, particularly with the number of hits we took the other way,” manager John Farrell said. “That’s always a positive sign for us.”
Betts now has 21 home runs on the season, and is the first Red Sox player ever to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases in back-to-back years. The only other Red Sox hitter with two such seasons is Jackie Jensen in 1954 and 1959.
The A’s had three or fewer hits for the 12th time, tied with the Chicago Cubs for the most such games in the majors this season.
Jackie Bradley Jr. came up empty in the first when he a mistimed a jump against the center field fence while trying to take away a hit from Jed Lowrie, who ended up with an RBI double.
Bradley made up for it in the fifth when he came down with a leaping grab just in front of the fence on a hard-hit ball by Marcus Semien. Bradley added an RBI double in the bottom of the inning.
Farrell said the Red Sox still expect to travel to St. Petersburg, Florida on Friday to begin their three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Tampa-St. Petersburg area is recovering after Hurricane Irma swept through earlier this week. “Everything right now points to us going there,” Farrell said. Major League Baseball moved what was supposed to be a three-game home series for the Rays against the Yankees to the Mets’ Citi Field.
Red Sox: INF Eduardo Nunez Farrell will be out “at least another week,” Farrell said. Nunez suffered a bruised right knee on a headfirst slide on Saturday and has experienced tightness and swelling. An MRI revealed a sprain, but it was “not MCL or ACL-related,” Farrell said.
Athletics: RHP Jharel Cotton (7-10, 5.82 ERA) is slated to make his first career start against the Red Sox.
Red Sox: RHP Doug Fister (5-7) is 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA in his last four starts.
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