First-pitch breaking ball betrays Betances

First-pitch breaking ball betrays Betances

BOSTON -- The first-pitch breaking ball has been a favored weapon for Dellin Betances, a scouting report that clearly has made its way into the hands of David Ortiz and the Red Sox.

Ortiz guessed right as Betances snapped off an 83 mph hook to start their eighth-inning power on power showdown. Big Papi dispatched the ball over the Green Monster, serving as the deciding blow in the Yankees' 4-2 loss at Fenway Park on Friday.

"I felt like I've done that a lot to lefties where I'm going for a first-pitch strike, just trying to reach that outside corner, and he just had a great at-bat," Betances said. "There's nothing I can really do differently there, unless I'm not trying to throw it for a strike and bury it and hope he swings over it.

"I've faced him a lot and a lot of times he takes it, but this time he had a different approach."

Betances had been the victor in most prior matchups with Ortiz, with the right-hander holding Ortiz hitless in seven at-bats, plus a sacrifice fly.

Ortiz said that he got a clue on the breaking ball -- characterized in different corners as a knuckle curve, slider, slurve or curve -- when Betances used it three times in a four-pitch sequence to Mookie Betts in the seventh inning.

"Hey, you know that Betances is one of the toughest pitchers in the league right now," Ortiz said. "I have like seven or eight at-bats against him without success. I was pretty much watching the whole thing and making up my mind and saw him throw a lot of breaking balls to Mookie, the first batter he faced.

"He's got a great breaking ball. The one that I hit stayed up a little longer than usual. He's a tough guy to hit and finally I got a good hit."

Betances said that he felt his breaking ball was "a little flat today," but he still trusted it against Ortiz.

"For him to hit that ball the way he did, he's been great his whole career, so all I can do is tip my cap to him," Betances said.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.