Starting Off With Six Slams

As you’ve probably heard hundreds of times by now, the Red Sox hit precisely zero grand slams in 2017. Yeah, I know. That’s just crazy, and emblematic of how power-starved that team was. 2018, however, has proven to be not as susceptible to power outages. Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez have been instrumental in bringing back the light-tower power in Boston, and again, the total amount of grand slams shows how much better they are in that area. 28 games in, and this team has clobbered six salamis. That’s absolutely insane. Compared to last year, this has been a revelation, and the Red Sox are now the first team since the 1996 Montreal Expos to hit six grand slams before May.

It’ll never be time for “on pace for” jokes, but if the Red Sox do indeed hit 36 grand slams this year, that’ll be incredible at the very least. So let’s look at the sextet of slams this team has hit, and enjoy each and every one of them, because after last year, I don’t think we’ll ever fully appreciate the of majesty of a four-RBI knock. Soak it all in while you can.

Grand Slam #1 — April 7th

It says a lot about how hard that ball was hit when all the left fielder does is turn to watch it.

Xander Bogaerts had already lashed a two-run double in the first inning by this point, and I guess he felt the need to pour it on. Jacob Faria’s 3-2 pitch was a flat fastball right down the middle, and Bogaerts got all of it and sent it into orbit. It goes without saying, but Bogaerts with two healthy wrists is a monster.

This was sort of a cathartic moment for the Red Sox, as they hit their first grand slam since 2016, and the offense finally broke out in a big way against a team that had held them to 11 runs in four games the week before. The cure to those offensive woes? Score eight runs in the first two innings against said opponent. Four out of every five managers would agree.

Grant Slam #2 — April 10th

Splitters aren’t supposed to be left in the top of the zone. That grand slam is a pretty good example why.

With the game getting wildly out of hand for the New York Yankees, Aaron Boone left Chasen Shreve in the game to face a gauntlet of Red Sox hitters, who had already chased Luis Severino from the game after five innings of five-run ball. It already wasn’t going well, with the Sox scoring five times in the frame already, then Shreve left a splitter up in the zone that Betts turned into a souvenir.

If you’re going to miss with a splitter, miss down, since it’s a lot harder to hit a ball 400 feet if it’s in the dirt. That’s not going to do a lot of good for Shreve now, obviously, but it’s nice to know.

Grand Slam #3 — April 11th

The very next day? You betcha.

J.D. Martinez wasted zero time in clobbering a first-pitch splitter that hung over the center of the plate. Masahiro Tanaka’s splitter was certainly lower than Shreve’s, but still not low enough. This game had already been marred by David Price losing feeling in his hand and Gary Sanchez blasting two dingers, so seeing Martinez bring the Red Sox back into the game just like that was very exciting.

Of course, this was also the Joe Kelly Fight Club game, so the Red Sox would go on to lose, albeit in a combative way. But at least it was fun, as fun as a loss can be.

Grand Slam #4 — April 18th

This is probably the first pitch that wasn’t outright terrible. Tyler Skaggs kind of hangs a curveball that, to his credit, does end up at the bottom of the zone, but it also hovered over the heart of the plate. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t already thrown two curveballs in the plate appearance, giving Rafael Devers an idea of what to look for. He was all over it, and knocked it over the new right field fence in Anaheim for his first career grand slam.

As with the other games in Anaheim, this one was a blowout. The Red Sox hit three homers and the pitching staff combined to only allow eight baserunners all game. At that point, a grand slam feels a little like showboating, but hey, I’m not an officer of the fun police.

Grand Slam #5 — April 20th

Three straight singles to left field to lead off the inning, and Kendall Graveman’s day was done. The Oakland Athletics elect to bring in Emilio Pagan, and before NESN goes to a commercial break, you see that shot of Mitch Moreland and the Red Sox coaches looking at some advance scouting reports. Once they come back to the game, Dave O’Brien hypes up Moreland a little bit, and then Moreland obliterates the first pitch he sees from Pagan.

That almost seems too good to be true, but seriously, that actually happened. The timing and camera shots could not have been better. Pagan hung a slider that caught the center of the plate — where have we seen that before, I wonder? — and Moreland was not about to let a mistake go unpunished. Or at least MLB’s website calls it a slider. I don’t know. It was a garbage pitch regardless. Do better, Emilio.

Grand Slam #6 — April 30th

Bogaerts’ grand slams always seem to have a certain majesty to them, don’t they?

Jason Hammel seemingly tries to jam Bogaerts with a high inside fastball, but Bogaerts, as O’Brien said, jumped all over it. On a 3-2 count yet again, Bogaerts gets a fastball to clobber, and clobber it he did. The Red Sox were sputtering here, as Eduardo Rodriguez was 1. not sharp and 2. getting squeezed by the C.B. Bucknor Strike Zone™, so they really needed the offense to come alive, and so it did, thanks to Bogaerts. Bonus points are awarded to Christian Vazquez for his dance in the dugout.

When a team ties a record for grand slams a year after hitting none of them, there’s no way you don’t try and appreciate what they’ve done. This team is good! Maybe not .750-win-percentage good, but they’re really, really good. The power’s back on, and the Red Sox are lighting it up. Here’s to more grand slams and great moments over the next five months. It’s going to be one hell of a ride.

Header photo by Bob DeChiara — USA TODAY Sports

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