Right fielder drives in five, makes dazzling diving grab
By Ben Raby
Special to MLB.com |
BALTIMORE -- Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts said he wasn't thinking of trying to hit his fourth homer of the game when he stepped into the batter's box in the ninth inning.
"I was more concerned with just getting a fourth hit," he said after Tuesday night's 6-2 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards. "A home run would have been nice, but I was just trying to get another hit at that point. They were still a grand slam away, so I was thinking baserunner and then we can score a couple of more runs."
Betts, who grounded out to second leading off the ninth, opened the game with a home run, added a three-run shot in the second and a solo homer in the seventh for his first three-homer game. He's also the first Red Sox leadoff hitter to go deep three times in one game since at least 1913.
Betts also impressed in the field with a dazzling diving catch in right-center field to rob Paul Janish in the seventh. As far as ranking his career highlights, Betts said Tuesday's game tops the list.
"This is probably the best night," he said. "It's the first time I've ever done that. I was able to make a play behind Robbie Ross, too, so putting the whole game together, I think it was the best day."
"He's been having a solid year for us," said manager John Farrell. "You look at 35 RBIs out of the leadoff spot coming into tonight, a big night by him, so I can't say that we were waiting for him to turn it on. But tonight was one of those rare nights that a player has."
Three pitches after Betts' leadoff shot to center off Orioles righty Kevin Gausman, Dustin Pedroia launched a 1-1 offering over the fence in left-center field for his seventh homer. It marked the first time the Red Sox led off with back-to-back homers since July 27, 2011, against the Royals.
Betts went deep again in his next at-bat in the second. With two on and two out, Betts sent a 2-0 pitch just over the fence down the left-field line for his second multihomer game of the season (May 21 vs. Cleveland).
In the seventh, Betts roped a solo shot to right -- his first career homer in that direction -- off Orioles reliever Dylan Bundy to make it 6-2.
"He's got five tools and he's smart," said David Ortiz. "I really believe that he's getting to that point where he understands what he needs to do. He works extremely hard. ... Being so young, its just impressive the way he handles business."
"It feels great, but tomorrow is a new day," said Betts, who is hitting .283 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs. "I feel like I haven't been consistent. One day, I'll have a good game and then I'll go 0-for-20. ... So I'm just trying to put it all together. One game is one game, but we'll try to do it for 15, 20 games."
Ben Raby is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.