BOSTON — With the way Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts have been hitting, it’s easy to forget about Mookie Betts sometimes.
But it was impossible to ignore the Red Sox right fielder Saturday at Fenway Park.
That’s because Betts was a one-man wrecking crew against the Cleveland Indians, going 3-for-5 with two home runs, three runs scored and a career-high five RBIs to carry Boston’s offense in a 9-1 blowout win. All three of his hits went for extra bases: A rocket double off the Green Monster in the third inning, a solo homer in the fourth and a grand slam to top it all off in the seventh.
“He’s got such lightning bat speed,” manager John Farrell said of Betts. “Velocity, he can catch up to it. He’s hitting balls hard. Particularly at home here, he’s a good pull hitter, he’s got a chance to use that wall, and fortunately he lofted it over (on his home runs).”
Ironically, Betts’ double was more well-struck than either of his homers, which both landed in the first row of the Monster seats. His solo shot was inches away from scraping the top of the Monster, and his teammates made him aware of that fact when he returned to the dugout.
“They were just saying, ‘(MLB.com’s) Statcast said that came off (the bat) at like 85 (miles per hour),” Betts said with a grin. “Hey, whatever. A home run’s a home run.”
The 23-year-old now has nine homers through 43 games after clubbing 18 through 142 games last season and has displayed some impressive power of late after a slow start to the season. He now has six extra-base hits in his last three games and has driven in at least one run in nine of Boston’s last 12 contests.
“I just try to do something good every day,” Betts said. “Whether it’s offense, defense, baserunning, whatever.”
Let’s hit a few other notes from Saturday’s win:
— Joe Kelly continued an impressive streak with his strong outing, as he’s now won his last 10 decisions. The right-hander hasn’t been handed a loss since July 22, 2015.
— Bradley extended his hitting streak to 26 games despite getting walked three times, twice intentionally and once semi-intentionally on four pitches. Farrell hinted that opposing pitchers’ insistence on avoiding his hottest hitter could prompt a lineup reshuffling.
“I think there was a clear strategy (Saturday): They’re not going to give (Bradley) a chance,” Farrell said. “So, we might have to adjust some things going forward, just so he’s got maybe a different slot in the lineup just to be in the middle of potentially building an inning further.”
— Catcher Ryan Hanigan exited the game in the sixth inning with a left hand contusion after being hit by a pitch. Postgame X-rays on his hand were negative, and Farrell is hoping the injury isn’t too serious.
“He’s day-to-day,” Farrell said. “That pitch (hit him in) kind of the fatty part of the outside of the palm. He’s got a little bit of a split in the skin, but we’ll check him certainly (Sunday).”
— Eduardo Rodriguez’s rehab has taken a turn for the better, and he might have a new brace on his left knee to thank. The 23-year-old left-hander participated in pitchers’ infield practice before Saturday’s game and appears back on track to make another rehab start in Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday.
“He had a strong work session (Saturday) with the PFP that he went through. Feels good coming out of it,” Farrell said. ?He was fitted for a brace, and the confidence that he?s got from that is substantial. There?s evenness to his running gate. He might have favored it a little bit prior. But change of direction, his footwork, all that was very good.”
— Brock Holt, who was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list Friday, will travel to Pittsburgh on Tuesday to be evaluated by concussion specialist Dr. Mickey Collins. Farrell hopes Holt will return soon but didn’t provide a timetable and spoke before the game of the issues such an injury can create.
“I think there’s always that delay in focus, where a quick head movement, it may take a little longer than normal to refocus,” Farrell said. “And that can be from change of direction on a play, run to a spot in the outfield, look up and reconnect with a flight of a fly ball, to reading pitches as they’re entering the strike zone. So, (with) all those, I think he felt a little disorientation, to express what he was going through.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images