Mookie Betts takes the New York Yankees yard three times in 4.0 innings last night, displaying yet again why he is the undoubtedbly best right fielder in the MLB.
Last season around this time we were already putting pen to paper: “American League MVP, Mookie Betts”.
Unfortunately, in many ways, this 2019 Red Sox season has been anything like last season, at times extremely difficult to remain engaged. Nevertheless, following a complete dominant defeat of the New York Yankees in which Boston racked up 19 runs on 23 base-hits, it was the talk of baseball year today who reminded us yet again, who the best right fielder in the game today is.
On a 3-2 pitch at 96 miles per hour, Mookie Betts took Yankees lefty James Paxton over the Green Monster to break open the game. Before we dive deep into what else Mookie did to take ownership of the ballgame entirely, let’s consider this. James Paxton was acquired by the New York Yankees with one sole purpose- to beat the Boston Red Sox.
Paxton entered last night’s game with a 3-0 record, a career 1.89 ERA, and 0.78 WHIP in five total starts throughout his career against the Red Sox. His last start against Boston was on April 16 of this season in which he pitched 8.0 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and a single walk with 12 strikeouts on the night. A fairly enticing and convincing track record that proved to be absolutely meaningless when Paxton took the mound against one Mookie Betts at the plate last night.
Prior to last night’s games, Mookie Betts had gone just 4-for-12 at the plate from 2015-18. Not a single RBI recorded against Paxton. A history that would take a dramatic shift for Betts through just 4.0 innings of Friday night’s game two of the series.
After homering off Paxton’s 3-2 pitch in the first, Mookie would see Paxton again quickly in the third inning. New inning. Same story. This time a 2-2 pitch at again 96 on the radar gun, would soon find it way on the second row of Fenway’s Monster seats. Then came the 3-1 pitch, Paxton’s 94th of the night, just an inning later that would find its way right out of the park, giving Mookie his third home-run of the night, all against Paxton.
Ironically the man who New York landed to take down Boston’s lineup, was taken yard four times, three by Mookie Betts alone. It was the fifth time in Betts’ career in which he’s gone deep three times in a game. He entered the game having already surpassed Hank Aaron (1), Ken Griffey Jr. (2), Babe Ruth (2), Willie Mays (3), and Ted Williams (3) in that milestone list. Last night Mookie placed his name ahead of another all-timer in Barry Bonds, who throughout his entire “legitimate” career, had only done so in four games. Mookie Betts is just 26 years old, hasn’t received his awaited first pay-day via free agency yet, and has now hit three home runs in five games in his still very young career.
The record is six games, which is held by another man who’s statistical milestones were extremely counterfeit, in notorious cheater Sammy Sosa. Then there’s 10-time All-Star and five-time World Series Champ, Johnny Mize who managed to pull off the record with six back in the late ’40s to early ’50s.
Betts, 26, is just one game shy of tying the all-time Major League record, and two away from being the only player to ever hit three home runs in seven career games played. Quite frankly if Betts manages to pull that off, it best be in a Boston uniform!
The MVP is BACK!
In his last 22 games, Mookie is hitting .389/.462/.689 with a 1.151 OPS, five home runs, 10 doubles, and 17 runs batted in.
Yeah. Now that’s an MVP swing!
With the Red Sox now just 9.0 games out of the American League East, two more games of this series against the Yankees, and another series coming up against the pinstripes from August 2-4th, the season is far from over. Following this series that’s seven games against the Rays and Yankees. Plenty of opportunities to make up for the first half and climb back in the race.
The Inescapable, Season-Long Anchor
Unfortunately, Boston’s top-tier offense that’s the best baseball has to offer, remains weighed down by their bottom-tier bullpen.
Last night Heath Hembree, with a seven-run lead, was called upon by manager Alex Cora to close out the game. Pretty simple right? You’re up seven runs and this assignment is essentially mop duty to anyone.
Well… this is the 2019 Red Sox, Dave Dombrowski assembled bullpen we’re talking about here. The same bullpen that’s blown nearly two dozen saves this season. Yeah, those guys…
Hembree only lasted long enough to force Cora to pull him out after allowing two runs off a walk and two Yankee hits. The plug was pulled on Hembree’s appearance before he could record a single out so technically his relief appearance registers as 0 innings pitched. Pretty embarrassing, but further shows why he, among others, don’t belong on this team at all.
If a seven-run lead is too much pressure, and your manager needs to call in an overworked Brandon Workman to finish up your mop duty, then you sure as hell don’t deserve a spot in a Major League bullpen.
In Saturday’s game three, it’ll be Eduardo Rodriguez taking the mound for Boston. E-Rod is 5-1 with a 3.83 ERA and has won eight of his last 11 starts. The Yankees will send C.C. Sabathia to the hill, who allowed three runs through 6.0 innings against the Red Sox on Jun 2. However, Sabathia did allow seven runs through 4.0 innings against the Minnesota Twins in his last start.
Run that board back up. Sweep the self-proclaimed “savages”!