David Kohl/USA Today Sports

Red Sox 5, Reds 4: Mookie Betts is starting to feel like Mookie Betts

Rob Bradford
September 24, 2017 - 10:11 pm

Here was Mookie Betts on the Bradfo Sho podcast almost two months ago:

"Last year could be arguably the best year I have in my career. I'm a realist and I know it ain't getting much better than that. When am I going to hit 30 home runs again? I don't know if I ever will. When am I ever going to hit .320 again? I don't if I ever will. If I can get somewhere near I did last year, it will be a good year. Knowing I'm not really doing that right now, it's kind of rough. But in the grand scheme of things, the season is not over and the most important thing is that we're winning so I can't really be too mad about it."

With one week left in the regular season, the numbers haven't come back for Betts. After the Red Sox' 5-4 win over the Reds Sunday afternoon, the outfielder is hitting just .263 with a .798 OPS. It's a far cry from the .318/.897, American League MVP runner-up campaign of a year ago. (For a complete recap of the Sox' win, click here.)

But you know what has come back? That feeling that Betts can take over a game.

The latest example came in the series finale when Betts took over the Red Sox' last road game of the regular season by himself, first tying the game with a bases-loaded, bases-clearing double in the eighth inning. He then raced around from second on an innocent infield single off the bat of Rafael Devers for the eventual game-winner.

"The way he played today it shows you every skillset he has," Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters after his team's sixth straight win.

Betts' resurgence may becoming one of the most important developments for the Red Sox heading into the postseason. (And, yes, with the Magic Number now at 3, and carrying a five-game lead over the Yankees, the Red Sox will be participating in more than just a Wild Card game.) The middle-of-the-order presence to go along with Andrew Benintendi has finally arrived.

This month -- which has now seen the Red Sox go 15-6 -- Benintendi's OPS with runners in scoring position stands at 1.021, while Betts is right behind, clocking in at .976. And while there are obvious reasons the right fielder has played more innings than any player in baseball despite his offensive ups and downs (being one of the best baserunners and defenders in the game), there is also a pretty telling stat that might offer Betts' value.

When the Red Sox win, the 24-year-old carries a .959 OPS. When they lose? The OPS is just .553.

"I felt pretty good. I put in a lot of work to get to a good spot and just kind of let my abilities take over and I was finally able to do that … sometimes better late than never," Betts told reporters.

The Red Sox have now won 11 games in which they were trailing after seven innings, most in the majors.

Bronson Arroyo joins Joe and Tim in the Booth.09-24-17

Joe and Tim are joined by Broson Arroyo in the Top of the 5th inning. Bronson talks about his time with the Red Sox, mentoring the young pitchers in the Reds system, and what his plans are for retirement. 

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