Mookie reignites with big night at plate

Leadoff man ends recent funk, rest of offense follows suit

Mookie reignites with big night at plate

BOSTON -- Mookie Betts is the igniter to the Red Sox's offense, which explains why the leadoff hitter and his team were cold at the same time.

In Wednesday night's 7-3 victory over the Rays, Betts awakened, and the offense he leads followed suit.

The Red Sox finished Tuesday's 3-0, 10-inning loss in about the most frustrating way possible, with 23 straight batters making outs as the losing streak reached three games.

Betts changed the momentum innocently enough on Wednesday by drawing a six-pitch walk in the first. Dustin Pedroia came up next and singled. Xander Bogaerts did the same to drive in Betts, and David Ortiz hammered a two-run double into the gap in left-center.

That 3-0 lead turned to 5-0 in the second when Betts unloaded on a 94-mph fastball by Chris Archer for a two-run laser off the light stanchion atop the Green Monster.

Betts would reach base in his first four plate appearances amid a 2-for-3 night that included a stolen base and three runs scored. Betts was everywhere.

Betts' leaping grab

"I think anytime the top of the order is setting the table for the middle, you're probably giving yourself some good opportunities," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Mookie's got the ability to strike quick with one swing of the bat, and then he can create some havoc on the basepaths as we saw. He's a multi-talented guy."

Betts had just two hits in his last 21 at-bats with no walks heading into Wednesday's game.

"I felt a lot better," said Betts. "I was able to finally put some good swings on some balls and at least put it in play."

After struggling for the first couple of months of 2015, Betts was determined not to let his first slump of this season linger. He knows that the difference between good players and great ones is to minimize cold spells. And despite his low-key nature, there's no doubt Betts wants to be great.

"I just know now it seems like it's been a long time, but it's only been 10 games or so," Betts said of his slump. "That two-month span I went through last year, I'm just trying to really condense it down, and when the little valleys do happen, I'm trying to minimize them as fast as possible."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.