Red Sox Notes: Mookie Betts Performing His Best When It Matters Most


September 24, 2017

Let’s be honest: Mookie Betts hasn’t performed up to expectations this season.

But as the Boston Red Sox continue their march toward playoff baseball, their star outfielder is starting play like the five-tool stud he is. And if this team is going to make a serious run at a World Series championship, Betts will need to perform more like the player we saw in 2016.

The 24-year-old’s immense skill set was on display in Cincinnati on Sunday, as his three-run double and aggressive baserunning in the eighth inning propelled the Sox to a thrilling, come-from-behind 5-4 win over the Reds. Here’s his game-tying knock:

And here he is scoring the game-winning run:

This performance, however, didn’t happen in a vacuum.

In the month of September, Betts is hitting .275 with a .936 OPS. The batting average is his third highest monthly total of the season, while the OPS — perhaps the truest indicator of performance at the plate — is his best of any month this season. Furthermore, his .588 slugging percentage in September is his highest of any month, and his .348 on-base percentage is second highest.

That’s a long, nerdy way of saying that Betts is having perhaps his best month of the 2017 season, with the playoffs right around the corner.

Ultimately, the 2016 American League MVP runner-up won’t match the numbers he put up last season, when he hit .318 with 31 home runs and 113 RBIs. But a .263 average with 23 homers and 99 RBIs certainly is nothing to stuff at.

Regular season numbers, however, all will be forgotten if Betts performs in October like he has in September.

Here are some other notes from Red Sox-Reds:

— Utility infielder Eduardo Nunez, who’s been out since Sept. 9 with a sprained knee ligament, is making progress toward a return.

This certainly is an encouraging sign. And if Nunez feels no ill-effects Monday, he could make his return to the lineup as a designated hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays, according to MassLive’s Christopher Smith.

— With the Sox’s win and the New York Yankees’ loss to the Jays on Sunday, Boston’s magic number to clinch the American League East is down to three.

— The sweep of the Reds gave the Sox their sixth consecutive win and an 8-1 record on their final road trip of the regular season.

— The win gave Boston its 11th victory when trailing after the seventh inning, which is the most in Major League Baseball.

— Prior to the game, Red Sox manager John Farrell said he and the team would “fully support” any player who decides to kneel for the national anthem.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images

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