There is no stopping Mookie Betts.
The Boston Red Sox right fielder is regarded as one of the best young players in the game, and that has been evident in the way he has started the 2018 season. In the most recent instance, the slugger clubbed a pair of home runs in Boston’s 4-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.
Betts hit his first home run on the third pitch of the game, sending a fastball over the plate into the seats. Although he gave his team a nice cushion before Eduardo Rodriguez even took the bump, by the seventh inning, the Red Sox found themselves trailing by one run. With a runner on first, Betts sent a fastball away to the opposite field and into the right-field bleachers for the ultimate deciding margin.
Regardless of the situation, Betts has found a way to contribute. No matter what he’s doing at the dish, he often is a sure bet to make great plays in the outfield. But it isn’t often he’s not finding a way to contribute at the plate, as he now has eight home runs this season to go with a .350 batting average.
All the while, Betts is doing this from the leadoff spot, and in doing so is creating a trickle-down of sorts. He is putting a bit more pressure on the pitcher by getting on base, which is forcing them to throw strikes to the hitters behind him.
Furthermore, what Betts is doing is putting him above all other leadoff hitters in the game. In fact, his nine multi-homer games from the top spot in the order since 2015 is the best in Major League Baseball from then until now.
Plenty has gone right for the Red Sox already this season, and Betts has been the catalyst for much of it.
Here are some other notes from Red Sox-Blue Jays:
— Not to be ignored amid Boston’s success is Brock Holt’s performance amid Xander Bogaerts’ absence. While providing quality defense at shortstop, Holt also has been hitting the ball well.
The utility man paced the Red Sox with three hits Wednesday, bringing his average this season up to .327. He isn’t just hitting and getting on base, he is putting together timely hits. He was responsible for the game-tying hit in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s loss, and he added a go-ahead double in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s contest.
Bogaert obviously will return to his spot at short when he’s activated off the disabled list, but Holt has proven in these couple of weeks that when he gets into a rhythm he can be a quality bat in the lineup.
— The Red Sox now are 4-0 when Rodriguez starts a game as the lefty climbed to 3-0 this season.
Rodriguez went 6 2/3 innings in the win, allowing three runs on six hits with three strikeouts and one walk. He tossed 106 pitches, an encouraging display of durability and efficiency given he got a late start to his campaign as he recovered from offseason surgery.
Hanley Ramirez jokingly lifted Rodriguez’s head up on the mound as Alex Cora came to take the pitcher out of the game in the seventh inning. It appeared something may have been disappointing Rodriguez when he was lifted from the game, but he did his job and gave Boston a chance to win, something that was clear to his teammates.
— Craig Kimbrel bounced back nicely after surrendering a walk-off home run to Curtis Granderson on Tuesday.
Cora went back to his closer Wednesday in a 4-3 game, giving him a clean ninth inning. Kimbrel earned the save, his sixth of the season, by retiring all three batters he faced.
— The Red Sox snapped their longest losing streak (three games) of the season with Wednesday’s victory.
Thumbnail photo via Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports Images