This has suddenly become a familiar-looking Mookie Betts

Rob Bradford
September 05, 2019 - 12:16 am
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This was the plan that worked so well in 2018 and has finally seemingly kicked in for 2019.

Mookie Betts, leadoff hitter, jumping all over the first good pitch he sees. Two pitches. Two home runs. 

This time that's exactly what happened during the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Twins Wednesday night with Betts executing the blueprint to perfection, taking the first two offerings he witnessed from Minnesota starter Jose Berrios over the left-field wall. (For a complete recap, click here.)

"You look at his numbers and I think on the first pitch, he’s hitting close to .400 and slugging a lot," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "It’s the nature of him. He’s patient. It’s nothing, I’m not against it, but I feel that he can do this from the get-go, set the tempo. It was good to see. That’s a good pitcher over there, and he likes to get ahead, and that’s what Berrios did the first pitch, hit it out of the ballpark, Christian (Vazquez), first pitch hit it the other way. There were some good swings early in counts. I think lately we’ve been very patient, we’ve been getting into some bad counts, we’ve been striking out a lot as a unit, and we don’t usually do that. We’re the other way around, we push them out of the zone, and today was good, that was good to see. He set the tempo."

Cora's right, Betts' best game is an aggressive one.

Coming into Wednesday night the leadoff hitter was hitting .349 with a 1.132 OPS when putting the first pitch in play. Of his last seven homers (starting Aug. 1), four have come on the first pitch.

"I just know he’s a good pitcher," Betts said of Berrios, who had allowed opposing hitters a .439 batting average on balls put in play on the first pitch of an at-bat. "You start falling behind him, he’ll put you away quick. That’s kind of in general. I just need to be a little more aggressive."

Betts is back in the mindset that worked so well for him a year ago, with the results to prove it. Since the end of July, he is hitting .330 with 12 homers and a 1.006 OPS over 55 games. That will work.