The Boston Red Sox have some serious momentum right now. On Thursday night they won their 10th game in a row and their 66th game of the season, setting the record for the most wins before the All-Star break. And there’s one player who should be thanked for his instrumental part in nailing down that record-setting win: Mookie Betts.
Betts is having an otherworldly season, but on Thursday night he put on a one at-bat masterclass titled “I Am A Very Good Baseball Player, Watch How Good I Am.” The Red Sox were playing the Toronto Blue Jays, and were down 2-1 when Mookie came to the plate in the fourth inning. Facing J.A. Happ with the bases loaded, Mookie battled Happ in an epic, nerve-wracking 13-pitch at-bat that ended with a glorious grand slam that put the Sox up 5-2.
Everything that went into the entire sequence was epic. First, the entire at-bat lasted nine minutes. There are entire innings, both top and bottom, that haven’t lasted that long. There are entire innings that have featured fewer pitches than Betts saw in that at-bat. Plus, the at-bat had some drama. Betts was down 1-2 just three pitches into it, and on the fourth pitch the whole thing almost ended. He hit a foul pop-up to the first base side which Justin Smoak almost caught. If it hadn’t clunked off the heel of his glove and onto the ground, it would have been just another at-bat.
But it wasn’t just another at-bat. Pitch four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and eleven were all hit foul. Betts kept fighting for a pitch he could really hit, which was pretty tiring for Happ. Pitches 10 and 12 bounced to the plate, and he left pitch No. 13 just hanging in the lower part of the zone. Mookie crushed that one out of Fenway Park.
And then he lost his mind. If you’d just survived an at-bat for 13 pitches and ended it with a go-ahead grand slam, wouldn’t you? After the ball left the stadium (he literally hit it out of the park), Betts turned around toward the dugout and celebrated as he started running backwards up the first base line. And because running backwards while celebrating is hard, Mookie almost fell down while trying to turn back around.
How did he not fall down there when normal people would be on the ground with a face full of infield dirt? Because Mookie Betts is a world-class athlete.
There is absolutely no better way for a 13-pitch at-bat to end than with a grand slam. It was a perfect baseball moment, capped off by Mookie going nuts and soaking up the crowd’s energy and then almost falling down. It was dramatic, emotional, masterful, and cathartic. In short, it’s everything that’s great about baseball, and everything that’s great about Mookie Betts.
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