Mookie Betts shimmied his way to a standout performance in Game 2 of the ALCS
Baseball's best players tend to rise to the challenge when the opportunity calls in the postseason. No matter what happens in limited samples, pure talent usually wins out in the end.
Mookie Betts might be the leading candidate for American League MVP, but his career postseason OPS of .653 in 12 games (entering Game 2 of the ALCS) belied his true ability. Astros manager AJ Hinch knew this, even calling Betts a "ticking time bomb" before Sunday's showdown.
Betts ensured that Hinch's words were prescient during Boston's 7-5 victory in Game 2. First, he led off the game for the Red Sox against Gerrit Cole by launching a long double to center field that nearly left the yard:
Andrew Benintendi then singled Betts home to put Boston in front, 1-0, after just six pitches.
"He ignited them from the very beginning of the game," said Hinch. "This place, the energy of this place when he comes up to bat is really electrifying. You try to minimize as much as you can in front of them; we didn't do a great job of that today. But from the first at-bat on, he set the tone."
The game went back and forth over the next few frames, and Jackie Bradley Jr.'s odd bases-clearing double gave the Red Sox a 5-4 lead. Hoping to give them some more run support against Lance McCullers Jr. in the seventh, Betts led off with a walk, beginning a wild merry-go-round around the bases:
That smooth slide added a sixth run to the Boston cause.
However, Mookie wasn't done yet. In the eighth, he had another chance to increase the lead when he faced Hector Rondon and laced a 1-1 offering back up the middle into center field for another double. Rafael Devers scored to give Boston a 7-4 advantage that ultimately held up.
The RBI double was the perfect chance for a second shimmy:
The double was obviously nice, but Red Sox skipper Alex Cora was glad to see that classic Betts grin after the team's disappointing 7-2 loss on Saturday. "I saw him smiling today, which is always good," said Cora. "When Mookie's smiling, good things are happening."
Red Sox fans couldn't agree more as the ALCS heads to Houston all tied up at a game apiece.