BOSTON — Mookie Betts and the Boston Red Sox followed up one rout with another, capitalizing as the New York Yankees’ starting pitchers faltered in historic fashion.
Betts homered in his first three at-bats off James Paxton and added an RBI double as the Red Sox beat New York 10-5 on Friday night, pulling within nine games of the AL East-leading Yankees.
“I think now’s the time,” Betts said. “It’s getting later and we have to start stringing together some wins and we’re doing that.”
Betts homered on Paxton’s eighth pitch in a three-run first that included J.D. Martinez’s two-run homer, went deep again leading off the third for a 4-0 lead and hit a two-run drive in the fourth for a 7-0 advantage.
Betts added an RBI double in the sixth off David Hale to give him five RBIs and grounded out in the eighth. With his fifth career three-homer game, Betts raised his season total to 18 homers.
Batters have had three-homer games on four straight days for the first time in big league history. Betts followed the New York Mets’ Robinson Canó, St. Louis’ Paul DeJong and Minnesota’s Nelson Cruz.
“It’s crazy just to see it once,” Betts said. “But I guess to see it four straight days, there’s a lot of good hitters out there, and they’re showing it.”
Andrew Cashner (10-5), coming off losses in his first two starts after Boston acquired him from Baltimore, allowed three runs and 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Martinez had three RBIs for the Red Sox, who won the opener of the four-game series 19-3. The Red Sox had 14 hits, giving them 37 in the first two games of the series, and reached 11 games above .500 for the first time this season at 58-47.
“I don’t know if it’s a statement or whatever,” manager Alex Cora said. “We know we’re good. We know we’re very talented.”
Paxton (5-6) became just the fourth pitcher in big league history to allow a leadoff home run in three straight starts, according to STATS, after Brad Radke (2004), Brandon Backe (2008) and Yovani Gallardo (2017). Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon went deep off Paxton to open last Sunday in New York and Tampa Bay’s Travis d’Arnaud did the same on July 15 at Yankee Stadium.
“I thought I threw the ball pretty well, but they didn’t miss pitches where I made mistakes,” Paxton said. “They were swinging the bat really well.”
Paxton has an 11.00 ERA in the first inning this year, allowing 10 first-inning home runs in 18 starts. Overall, he allowed seven runs and nine hits in four innings, including a career-worst four homers, while striking out nine and walking none. His ERA rose to 4.72 and he has allowed 17 homers this season, including 11 in his last six starts.
New York has allowed 64 runs in its last six games, the most allowed by the Yankees in a six-game span. Yankees starters gave given up 47 runs — 43 earned — in that span, yielding 47 hits in 21 2/3 innings, including 16 homers. New York became the first team in the live ball era since 1920 whose starters allowed six or more runs in four innings or fewer in six straight games, according to STATS.
“It’s obviously been a rough week for us, so all we can do is dive in and, as best we can, try and tighten things up and get things corrected,” manager Aaron Boone said.
Austin Romine had three hits and drove in a pair of runs for the Yankees, who have lost four of six. New York didn’t score off Cashner until the sixth.