BOSTON (AP) — J.D. Martinez hit his major league-leading 28th home run. Mookie Betts had two hits and a running catch in center field. Mitch Moreland made an over-the-shoulder grab. Even Andrew Benintendi, who is still trying to earn a spot in the All-Star Game, had a pair of hits.
The Boston Red Sox have a lineup stocked with All-Stars, and they’re playing like it.
“There’s so many ways this team can win every night,” Martinez said after helping the Red Sox win their seventh straight game, 5-0 over the Texas Rangers on Monday night.
“Our whole team’s been really consistent,” said Martinez, one of five Boston players named to the AL roster in next week’s All-Star Game. “You know what you’re going to get when you come to the ballpark every night.”
Martinez hit a three-run homer, Steve Pearce added a two-run shot and Eduardo Rodriguez pitched 5 2/3 innings as Boston won for the 14th time in 17 games. The Red Sox ended the day with a 2 1/2-game lead in the AL East — their biggest since April — over the New York Yankees, who split a doubleheader in Baltimore.
“Mookie, Benny, now it’s getting fun,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “Those guys are getting on base a lot. And J.D.’s getting pitches to hit.”
Pearce, who was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays last month, lined a 3-2 pitch into the Monster Seats with two outs in the first inning to make it 2-0. It stayed that way until Betts and Benintendi singled to lead off the eighth and Martinez put one into the Monster Seats to give the Red Sox a 5-0 lead.
That was plenty for five Red Sox pitchers, who combined on a five-hitter.
Rodriguez (11-3) held Texas hitless until Adrian Beltre singled with one out in the fourth. He allowed just three singles and three walks, striking out five.
No one made it past second base for the Rangers until Robinson Chirinos tripled to lead off the seventh, but he was stranded there when Brandon Workman struck out Joey Gallo and then retired Delino Deshields and Elvis Andrus on groundouts.
“When you’re playing a team like this, you have to capitalize on your opportunities,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “And we didn’t do that tonight.”
Mike Minor (6-5) allowed Pearce’s homer in the first and was charged with two runs on six hits, striking out four in 5 1/3 innings for his first loss since May. The Rangers have lost five of their last seven.
“The first inning I was behind on everybody and couldn’t throw it where I wanted to,” Minor said. “I felt good. My arm felt good. I just didn’t make quality pitches early.”
Betts made a running catch on Andrus’ line drive to left-center in the fifth. Betts, who played center field for just the fifth game all season, was elected to the All-Star Game for the third straight year. He also had a ground-rule double to center in the fifth and a single to lead off the eighth.
In their first game since the All-Star selections were announced, the Red Sox played all three regulars who chosen. Closer Craig Kimbrel sat back down after Martinez’s homer; Chris Sale is scheduled to start on Wednesday.
Benintendi is among those eligible for the final spot to be determined by a fan vote. The Red Sox campaigned for him by writing #VoteBenny in chalk in the dirt behind home plate. He had a double, a single and struck out twice.
MOVING UP I
Beltre, the active major league leader in hits, moved past Dave Winfield and into 20th place on the career list with his fourth-inning single. He now has 3,111, four behind Alex Rodriguez at No. 19.
MOVING UP II
The Rangers activated RHP Corey Gearrin a day after he was acquired from San Francisco along with OF Austin Jackson and RHP Jason Bahr. Austin Bibens-Dirx was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock to open a spot on the roster.
Gearrin got five outs, striking out one batter.
Red Sox C Christian Vazquez will need surgery on his right pinky and is expected to be out 6-8 weeks. He was placed on the disabled list Sunday.
Rangers: RHP Yoviani Gallardo (3-0, 8.17) makes the start in the second game of the series on Tuesday night.
Red Sox: RHP Hector Velazquez (6-0) was announced as the Game 2 starter after Monday night’s game.