J.D. Martinez: 'Way too early' to call Red Sox best team in majors

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Boston Red Sox traveled to face a Los Angeles Angels team that had won seven consecutive games, then outscored them 19-1 over a stretch of 18 innings.

They won 10-1 on Tuesday, then 9-0 on Wednesday, becoming the first team in 15 years to start a season with at least 15 wins in the first 17 contests.

Is it too early to call them the best team in the majors?

"Yeah," J.D. Martinez, the Red Sox's new outfielder, said with a smile. "I think it's way too early for that. Come at me when it's July, you know? That's when you can start having those conversations."

Still, the Red Sox -- solid defensively and deep offensively, with a star-studded rotation and a lock-down bullpen -- have shown that they might be on to something, while easily leading the majors in run-differential (plus-60), runs per game (6.35) and starting-pitcher ERA (1.91).

The Red Sox belted six home runs on Tuesday, three of them off the bat of the red-hot Mookie Betts. Then they added another three on Wednesday, one of which was a grand slam by Rafael Devers, his second home run in as many days.

On Tuesday, Angels starter Shohei Ohtani required 66 pitches to record six outs. On Wednesday, Tyler Skaggs recorded only his seventh out with his 60th pitch. The Red Sox built a 6-0 lead off Skaggs by the end of the third inning and Rick Porcello cruised through six, giving up six hits and no walks while the first-place Red Sox improved to 15-2.

Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland, who also homered, was previously a member of five Texas Rangers playoff teams, which means he has been involved in a lot of great runs.

"But I don't think to this extent, where we're playing good defense, we're throwing the ball so well, we're coming up with big hits and everybody in the clubhouse is doing something to help the team win," Moreland said. "It might just be because it's fresh in my mind, but it stands out because it's as good a ball as I've been a part of."

The Red Sox are only the seventh team to start 15-2 or better in the live ball era, which dates back to 1920. The last team to do that was the 2003 San Francisco Giants.

That was also the only other instance since 1900 when a team had won at least 15 of its first 17 games with a new manager, according to research from the Elias Sports Bureau. But that Giants team was led by Felipe Alou, who previously spent 10 years guiding the Montreal Expos. Alex Cora, 42, is a rookie manager with the Red Sox.

"I'm in a good place," Cora said. "I know how good they are, but it's just something about them that makes you feel confident, you know? You show up every day to work, you enjoy it. I'm having a blast with them, not only in the dugout but in the clubhouse. It's fun. It's fun to be around them. It's a good group. We've grown together, we're learning together, and we're going to keep getting better."

Devers dealt the final blow in a five-run third inning that blew the game open and gave the Red Sox four-plus runs in an inning through nine of their past 10 games. They have four grand slams in 17 games this season, after not coming up with any through 162 games last season. At the plate, they've scored 84 runs in their past 10. On the mound, they have allowed three runs or fewer in 14 of 17 games, including six in a row.

Said Cora: "It's just fun to watch."

Last year, Cora served as a bench coach for the World Series-champion Houston Astros, who eliminated the Red Sox in the American League Division Series. The Red Sox had won 93 games to capture the AL East. Then they added Martinez, and now they're off to their best start in their 118-year history.

"We were something special last year," Moreland said. "We added a couple more guys, and everybody came in with a little extra added fire, and it's shown. It showed in spring training, and it's continued throughout the season so far."