Mookie's aggressiveness valuable in narrow victory

Takeout slide on potential DP leads to only run on Tuesday

Mookie's aggressiveness valuable in narrow victory

ST. PETERSBURG -- Mookie Betts has been known to make a highlight-reel play or two. But he's not afraid to get down and dirty either.

In Tuesday's 1-0 win over the Rays, Betts helped create the only run of the night when he barreled into second baseman Ryan Brett on a takeout slide.

The throw sailed wide at first base, and Ryan Hanigan scored from first on the error.

"I think Betts' slide, obviously he can fly," said Rays manager Kevin Cash. "So he got on top of him pretty quick. … It looked like [Rays starter Chris Archer] got the ball to him in fairly quick time. It was just a tough play. That's what happens when you have a fast guy coming down on you."

And as Betts showed in that instance, he is a lot more than flash.

"Just breaking up a double play," said Betts. "Talking to some of the guys, the little things we talk about, ways to affect the game in some way, that was my opportunity, nothing dirty, just going in to try and break up a double play."

Betts has learned in short order from the veteran players that the subtle plays are sometimes the ones that win games.

"Even in 10-0 games, whatever the score is, those are the important things you have to do in the game," said Betts. "That's kind of what I learned since the season started."

It was the type of play a manager appreciates.

"The one thing our guys have done a great job at is doing just that, breaking up a double play," said John Farrell. "We stress the importance of it, but he's such an instinctual baserunner. He's got good speed so he's able to get down on the pivot man in good time. A good hard slide to give us the error at first base and another unearned run ends up being the difference in this one."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.