Red Sox now 17-2, thanks to Moreland’s slam

Moreland's grand slam in the 6th

Red Sox now 17-2, thanks to Moreland’s slam. With the eyes of the nation turned to the Red Sox and their historic start, manager Alex Cora reminded his team on Friday to “stay humble, stay hungry.”

Unfazed by the spotlight, Boston continued its march into the record books with a 7-3 win in Oakland in Friday night’s series opener behind a three-run homer from Jackie Bradley Jr. and a Mitch Morelandgrand slam. The Red Sox improved to 17-2, becoming the fifth team in the live-ball era to win 17 of its first 19 games, and the first to do so since the 1987 Brewers.

Two of the other four teams to start 17-2, the 1984 Tigers and the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, went on to win the World Series.

“There’s a lot of people watching the team now, and there’s a lot of people talking about the team,” Cora said. “You can’t help it. You flip the channels, and they’re talking about what’s going on. But they’re humble and hungry, and they’re still doing it, and that makes me prouder.”

After Oakland jumped out to a 3-0 lead against Boston left-hander Drew Pomeranz, who was making his 2018 debut, the Red Sox bats picked up their power surge right where they left off in Anaheim.

Bradley’s long ball in the second tied the game before Moreland’s slam in the sixth put Boston ahead for good.

“Really, in that situation, I’m just trying to go up there and get a pitch up in the zone,” Moreland said. “It just happened to be a slider that kind of popped up out of his hand, and I was able to put a good swing on it.”

Moreland’s shot was Boston’s MLB-leading fifth grand slam in its last 12 games. The Red Sox did not hit one in 2017. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this marks the first time Boston has ever hit five grand slams before May 1.

Bradley and Moreland’s homers were Boston’s 12th and 13th on this road trip. The 11 long balls the Red Sox hit in Anaheim before coming to Oakland were their third-most ever in a three-game series. The Sox entered the game with 24 dingers, sixth in the Majors.

Under Cora, Boston’s lineup entered the season looking to be more aggressive at swinging at pitches in the zone. Moreland’s first-pitch grand slam was Boston’s sixth homer of the year on the first pitch of the at-bat.

“Regardless of who’s on the mound, you look for pitches in the middle of the zone,” Cora said. “And if they get it, they’re going to drive it.”

Despite Pomeranz’s short outing, the Boston bullpen combined for 5 1/3 innings of shutout relief, headlined by three scoreless innings from Hector Velazquez. Red Sox relievers have not allowed a run in their last 19 2/3 innings.

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