J.D. Martinez on a tear as Red Sox visit Rangers

MLB Baseball

J.D. Martinez and the Boston Red Sox will look to carry their early season success into a new month when they take on the Texas Rangers on Saturday night in Arlington, Texas.

Martinez finished a monster April with two home runs, three hits and four RBIs in a 6-1 victory over the Rangers on Friday, as the Red Sox bounced back from a 4-1 defeat in Thursday’s opener to the four-game series. Boston has won four of its past five games to begin May with a 3 1/2-game lead in the American League East.

Texas, meanwhile, has dropped six of eight to settle into the cellar of the AL West.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (4-0, 3.52 ERA) will take the mound for the Red Sox on Saturday looking to win his fifth consecutive start to begin the year. Right-hander Jordan Lyles (1-2, 6.75) will go for the Rangers.

Martinez had been expected to sit Friday after exiting Thursday’s loss with migraine symptoms. The 33-year-old assured his manager in the morning he was ready to go, and he proved it when he crushed the first pitch he saw for a three-run home run.

Martinez was at it again in the third inning, taking a splitter out to dead center for his league-leading ninth homer. Martinez also paces the majors in RBIs (25) to go with a .351 batting average.

The slugger’s hot start is a welcome sight for Boston after he hit .213 with seven homers and 27 RBIs during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Skipper Alex Cora said he isn’t surprised by the dramatically improved production.

“If you add this month to what he did last year — one more month — it’s a good season,” Cora said. “… I just believe last year was only 60 games, and he struggled. With him, it’s just one adjustment away from getting hot.

“He’s on a mission.”

The Red Sox went deep four times Friday to put the Rangers’ pitching staff in a tie with the Atlanta Braves for most homers allowed (39). After starter Kohei Arihara only made it 2 2/3 innings, Texas was bailed out by Hyeon-Jong Yang, who gave up just one hit in 4 1/3 scoreless innings of relief.

“He just kind of shut them down,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “I don’t think it’s too early to talk about (him joining the rotation.)”

That could put urgency on Lyles, who will look to bounce back after giving up seven runs on 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings in his most recent start against the Los Angeles Angels. The righty is 0-1 with a 7.45 ERA in two career starts against the Red Sox.

Rodriguez enters off his longest outing of the season, holding the Seattle Mariners to three runs on six hits over seven innings earlier this week. He struck out eight and walked none in earning the win.

Rodriguez is 3-0 with a 4.44 ERA in four starts against the Rangers.

-Field Level Media

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