Mookie Betts Continues to Be One of the Best Leadoff Hitters in Baseball as Red Sox Sweep Angels.
Picture Credit: MLB.com
To be perfectly honest with you, I was expecting this Red Sox-Angels series to be a competitive one. Going into Tuesday, both teams were in the midst of impressive winning streaks, with the Red Sox at four straight and the Angels at seven. I thought the series opener, which featured David Price and Shohei Ohtani, would set the tone for what would be a close three games. Maybe the Red Sox take two out of three in Anaheim, I thought, that would be great. Well, I was completely wrong. Instead of three close games, the Red Sox blew out the Angels three nights in a row. They outscored the Angels 27-3 and never trailed at any point in the series. They entered at 13-2, and they leave at 16-2, marking the best start to a season a team has had since the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers.
Eduardo Rodriguez made his third start of the season in this one, and he was fantastic. The lefty tossed six full innings, surrendering two earned runs on three hits and three walks to go along with five strikeouts. His day got off to a bit of an odd start, with the home plate umpire having to leave the game after taking a foul ball off his right elbow, but the delay that took place did not appear to have any negative effect on Rodriguez. He recorded his first two K’s of the night by getting Mike Trout and Justin Upton back to back in the first.
The Angels tacked on their first run in the second. A one out walk to Andrelton Simmons lead to third baseman Zack Cozart driving him in on an RBI single two batters later. The only other real mistake Rodriguez made came later on in the fifth. With no outs and old friend Chris Young at the plate, Rodriguez tried to sneak a 94 MPH fastball by the Angels fourth outfielder, but failed, as Young took him deep to left center for his first home run with his new team. That cut the Red Sox lead at the time to one run.
By the time Rodriguez got through his sixth and final frame, his pitch count was at a solid 104, 65 of which went for strikes. Since his horrid season debut back on the eighth of April, the native of Venezuela has been solid in his two starts, posting a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings pitched to go along with 13 K’s. It looks like he will be making his next start next Wednesday in Toronto.
— Red Sox (@RedSox) April 20, 2018
In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen nearly tossed a perfect three innings. Heath Hembree and Carson Smith tossed a shutout inning each in the seventh and eighth, and Joe Kelly allowed one hit while striking out two to lock up the three game sweep.
Offensively, Mookie Betts got the scoring started in typical Mookie Betts fashion. On the third pitch he saw from Halos starter Nick Tropeano, Betts blasted his sixth long ball of the season over the wall in left field, putting his team up early.
Your daily dose of Mookie. pic.twitter.com/EK7FNprDWs
— Red Sox (@RedSox) April 20, 2018
Later on in the fourth, after a leadoff walk from Hanley Ramirez, JD Martinez stayed hot by ripping a double to left field, scoring Ramirez from first and picking up 15th RBI of the season. Two batters later, Rafael Devers collected his first of two RBIs on the night with a ground ball single to right that allowed Martinez to score from second.
Fast forward to the sixth, and Andrew Benintendi FINALLY got his first home run of the season. On a 2-2 count, Benintendi hammered a 90 MPH fastball from Tropeano way over the wall in right field.
Three batters later, Devers collected that second RBI I mentioned earlier. He drove in JD Martinez, again, from third and put the Red Sox up by three.
After a quiet seventh, Mitch Moreland picked up his seventh RBI of the season with a sac fly that scored Hanley Ramirez from third.
With the game already in hand in the top of the ninth, Andrew Benintendi added on to his impressive night with a 2 RBI double that scored both Brock Holt and Mookie Betts to put them up 8-2.
Andrew Benintendi lines a two-run single to center and gets to second on the throw, extending the Red Sox's lead to 8-2 in the 9th inning (00:52)
— Ballpark Videos (@BallparkVids) April 20, 2018
Some notes from this one:
Mookie Betts hit his second leadoff home run in three days last night.
After a slow start to the season, Andrew Benintendi is now slashing .267/.384/.450 in 16 games. That’s a .834 OPS.
JD Martinez collected three hits last night, which marks his seventh multi-hit game of the season.
With two more RBIs last night, Rafael Devers is now tied for second in the American League in the category with 17, trailing only none other than Jed Lowrie for first place. He has 21.
Speaking of Jed Lowrie, the Red Sox will be taking on his team later tonight. That team being the Oakland Athletics, who despite being 9-10, have one of the best lineups in the AL thus far into the season.
Making his return to the rotation, Drew Pomeranz will be facing off against Athletics righty Kendall Graveman later tonight. First pitch is at 10:05 PM ET, GET PUMPED FOR DWEW.