BOSTON — The rest of the league should know by now not to sleep on Mookie Betts, but apparently the Baltimore Orioles haven’t gotten the message.
The Red Sox right fielder and American League MVP candidate started Monday night’s game with a bang, ripping a two-RBI double to left field in the first inning.
But Betts had another trick up his sleeve when Hanley Ramirez followed him with a base hit. Orioles left fielder Steve Pearce calmly fielded Ramirez’s bloop single, as Betts held at third base. Yet when Betts saw Pearce lazily flip the ball to shortstop J.J. Hardy, he made a break for it, scampering home as a surprised Hardy threw the ball off the mark to the plate.
(Click the image below to watch the play.)
Betts’ alert baserunning gave the Red Sox a five-run lead at the time and set the tone for a 12-2 blowout win at Fenway Park.
“That was such a heads-up play,” manager John Farrell said after the game. “He’s done that now, I think, three times, where he’s advanced when maybe an outfielder has changed course and thrown the ball back into the middle of the infield. He seizes those opportunities to take advantage of it.”
Indeed, Betts victimized the San Diego Padres on a similar play just five days ago, taking an extra base after a single when Padres right fielder Oswaldo Arcia froze after fielding the ball.
“I’m just kind of waiting to catch people slipping and hopefully keep them on their toes,” Betts said after the game.
He certainly accomplished that Monday, catching Pearce in a vulnerable moment to score his 108th run of the season, tying him with George Springer for the fourth-most in Major League Baseball.
“I was just waiting for the right moment,” Betts said. “I know we’re trying to be aggressive on the bases. We’ve been doing that all year, and I’m just trying to continue it.”
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images