BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels both flew south after leaving Fenway Park on Sunday, the Angels heading to Baltimore and the Red Sox to Tampa Bay.
Their seasons were headed in completely opposite directions.
The first-place Red Sox, getting two center field-bleacher home runs from Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a three-run shot from David Ortiz, hammered the staggering Angels, 10-5, on Sunday.
The Red Sox moved to a season-high 14 games over .500. They lost the opener of Saturday’s doubleheader before scoring 17 runs in two games to finish a 4-2 homestand.
The high-priced Angels, on the other hand, lost their seventh in the last nine games and fell to 27-36, 10½ games off the pace of Texas in the AL West.
“This is a great clubhouse, a great group of guys,” Saltalamacchia said of the Red Sox (39-25), who lost 93 games last year before making changes, including replacing manager Bobby Valentine with John Farrell. “It starts with the top and works its way down.
“Everybody knows their role and everybody knows what approach to take, which makes things easier. We’ve got a good group of veterans with a good group of young guys. It’s a lot of fun, especially being in first place, but we know we have to focus on tomorrow.”
The Angels, who appeared to be coming out of their bad start with an eight-game winning streak, have slipped into a 4-8 run that included a three-game sweep at the hands of the lowly Astros, and can’t seem to find any direction.
After Sunday’s game, manager Mike Scioscia, when asked if the coming schedule (Baltimore, the Yankees) makes it tougher, said: “We’ve played poor baseball against some teams that have losing records and had it taken to us.
“That’s not the question. The question isn’t who we’re playing or where we’re playing it’s how we’re playing the game.”
Saltalamacchia started the game 0-for-2 but then connected off starter Joe Blanton (1-10, 5.87 ERA) to start a back-to-back set with Mike Carp in the sixth.
In the seventh, Saltalamacchia hit a three-run shot off Robert Coello. The home runs were Saltalamacchia’s seventh and eighth of the season, as he recorded his fourth career two-home run game in extending his hitting streak to seven games (11-for-30).
Saltalamacchia and Carp, who hits his sixth home run into the bleachers, hit consecutive pitches from Blanton, who became the first 10-game loser in the major leagues this season.
Ortiz continued his remarkable season. Since starting 2013 on the disabled list as he made his way back from Achilles and heel trouble, he has hit 13 home runs and driven in 48 runs in 45 games.
Ryan Dempster (4-6) went the first six innings for his second straight win, the Red Sox scoring 24 runs in the two games. He also picked up his 2,000th career strikeout.
Dempster gave up solo home runs to Albert Pujols, his 10th and the eighth of his career off Dempster, the most he has off any pitcher. Alberto Callaspo hit his fourth of the season.
“Just another solid performance by him,” Farrell said of Dempster, who he says had some physical problems earlier that have cleared.
“Two-thousandth strikeout in his career, speaks volumes for the longevity and productivity of him. And a very good start on his part today.”
The opposite of Blanton is true. He gave up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits, five of them for extra bases. He has allowed 111 hits, the most in the majors.
Asked if he’s frustrated, Blanton, who thought the changeup he left up to Ortiz was the difference, said: “I’m never frustrated. It is what it is.
“I went out and did my best today. That’s all you can do. I made one mistake that cost me three runs. Other than that, the other two homers were inches from where I wanted it.”
Jose Iglesias and Dustin Pedroia extended hitting streaks to 13 games for Boston, while Mike Trout had three hits for the Angels, who got a two-run single from J.B. Shuck to make things a bit more respectable in the ninth inning before he made a baserunning mistake to end the inning.
For the Angels, big-money guys Pujols and Josh Hamilton combined to go 4-for-25 in the series.
NOTES: The Angels will activate CF Peter Bourjos, out since April 29 because of a hamstring strain, on Monday. … David Ortiz’s home run was his 414th lifetime, tying Darrell Evans for 48th place on the all-time list. … Boston’s Mike Napoli struck out four times and went 2-for-17 with eight strikeouts in the series. … The Red Sox need a starter for Wednesday night’s series finale at Tampa Bay. Franklin Morales, so ineffective in relief Saturday, is still a candidate. … RHP Clay Buchholz was still sore after two physical plays on the field Saturday night and was undergoing tests to see if he’ll miss any time. The hope was some of his soreness was normal day-after stuff. … CF Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to eight games and collected his 24th stolen base. … RHP Jered Weaver opens the Angels’ three-game series in Baltimore Monday night, while Boston RHP John Lackey faces the Rays. Lackey is 12-7 lifetime against Tampa and has had decisions in 19 straight starts, including a loss last month. … Albert Pujols is 21-for-60 (.350) with 17 RBIs lifetime against Dempster. … Manager John Farrell said 3B Will Middlebrooks will start after he returns from his minor league rehab, despite the performance of Jose Iglesias, who would settle into a utility role. … The Red Sox honored local high school scholars before the game.