When the Los Angeles Dodgers held a press conference after signing Mookie Betts to a record-setting 12-year contract extension, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman raved about a play the 2018 American League MVP made on the bases in the Boston Red Sox’s final game of the season last year.
The Red Sox were well out of the postseason picture, yet Betts hustled to score from first base on a single that kicked into right field for a walk-off win. “Scoring from first base in Game 162 in the ninth inning of an otherwise meaningless game, I showed that video to my sons,” Friedman said during the press conference.
“It really just speaks to the type of talent, also the type of person and how much he cares. And then we got a chance to be around that and see that on a more personal level. It just strengthened that commitment.”
Now Betts finds himself on a team ripe with World Series expectations. The Dodgers are closing in on an eighth consecutive National League West title, and the 27-year-old flashed some of his trademark hustle and determination during Saturday’s win over the Colorado Rockies.
With the Dodgers leading 4-1 in the seventh inning, Betts reached on an infield single to put runners at the corners. He moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Rockies reliever Mychal Givens then committed another blunder as he threw wide of second base on a pickoff attempt.
Betts alertly advanced to third base, made an aggressive turn and sprinted home as the Rockies lobbed the ball back into the infield. “You’ve got Trout, but I just don’t see anybody else in that category,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of his star right fielder.
“That’s one of the better plays you’ll ever see as far as the heads-up to take third base on the errant throw, and then to run hard around third base and understand where the baseball is at in shallow center field.
“To catch Trevor Story — who’s one of my favorite players to watch — sleeping a little bit, to beat that throw. What a heads-up play. … He did something similar in Boston, the last game last year. They were out it, last game of the year, ball to right field, he did something similar.
“Up four runs right there, it just sends a message to everybody that every play matters and how you play the game is important. To McKinstry, to Lux, Rios, everybody. Even the veteran players. It’s just how we play baseball. We’re very lucky to have him.”
Betts’ presence in the clubhouse was previously the source of praise, as Austin Barnes credited him for emerging from a skid, and Zach McKinstry recently voiced his appreciation for advice he was given by Betts and Justin Turner.
Kershaw at a loss
Clayton Kershaw dazzled on the mound in the Dodgers’ fifth consecutive win, allowing just one run over seven innings. He joined Roberts in raving about Betts’ play.
“There’s not a lot of bad things you can say about Mookie,” Kershaw began. “Just the way he plays baseball and the way he goes about it. I feel like everybody is saying this, but you saw tonight, he took third base on a bad throw to second, and then scored on a throw to shortstop.
“Who does that? Obviously he’s leading the league in homers, he’s a great at-bat, doesn’t strike out, runs the bases well, is like, the best right fielder I’ve ever seen.
“All that stuff, there’s a reason Andrew gave him the 12 years. It’s going to be a special thing to watch for a long time.”
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