TORONTO — For a moment, Mookie Betts thought about bunting.
Betts had watched as Tzu-Wei Lin and Deven Marrero had dropped down bunts in front of him, each reaching base with no outs in Sunday's third inning. It crossed the mind of Boston's best hitter that he, too, could try to catch the Blue Jays off-guard.
"My first thought was, 'Should I bunt again?'" Betts said. "Three bunts in a row, nobody is going to expect that."
Instead, Betts decided to swing away — and he hit a three-run home run to left-center field, the first of the two home runs he'd hit in Boston's 15-1 demolition of the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Betts hit just two home runs in April but is now up to hit 15 home runs for the season — all but two of which have come away from Fenway Park.
Betts drove in eight runs in Sunday's game, tying a major-league record for a leadoff hitter. Betts is the only Red Sox hitter to drive in eight runs in a game since Bill Mueller did so in 2003, and he's one of only two Red Sox hitters to drive in eight runs in a game twice; Nomar Garciaparra is the other.
The Red Sox have won four straight and six of their last seven to assert themselves as the team to beat in the American League East as the All-Star break approaches. The Blue Jays, on the other hand, could hardly look less like the team that reached the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.
The resurgent Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run home run as part of an eight-run inning that only served to bury further a Toronto team that has come apart at the seams. Ramirez has seven extra-base hits in his last seven games, including three home runs.
Red Sox lefty Drew Pomeranz won't be making a return trip to the All-Star Game, not after an up-and-down first half that at times has seen him fail even to pitch into the fifth inning with consistency. Pomeranz has pitched like an All-Star for the better part of six weeks, however — a key development at what remains a bit of a time of turmoil for the Red Sox pitching staff.
Pomeranz yielded just one run in six strong innings for the Red Sox, inducing a pair of ground-ball double plays and stranding a runner at second with a strikeout and a groundout in his final inning of work. In his last 10 starts, a span that even includes a clunker against Detroit in mid-June, Pomeranz has pitched to a 2.72 ERA with 56 strikeouts against 16 walks in 53 innings.
"I still don't think my curveball is quite what it was last year, and that's something I'm still trying to work on," he said. "It's been pretty good; I'm just not getting the swing and misses I was. I'm pitching to both sides of the plate really well."
It has been a remarkable surge for a pitcher viewed with cynicism by so many thanks in large part to his acquisition cost last July. In more than 150 innings pitched with the Red Sox since the trade, Pomeranz has a 4.09 ERA — almost identical to the 4.08 ERA compiled by David Price in his Red Sox career thus far.
The half-inning before Betts hit his first home run, Pomeranz escaped a jam with a curveball at the knees to Josh Donaldson to induce an inning-ending double play.