Dominant Dodgers duo helps power series win at Fenway

Betts matches career high with 35th homer, Freeman hits 50th double to set franchise record since move to LA in 1958

August 27th, 2023

BOSTON -- For months it looked like Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. had a direct path at winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award. As August nears its end, Acuña now has some company at the top courtesy of two of Los Angeles' stars.

Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts are both having one of the best months of their careers in August, which says a lot given both players are well on their way to being among the elites of their generation. Because of it, both Freeman and Betts have catapulted themselves into the thick of the NL MVP discussion.

Everything the Dodgers have done this season revolves around Betts and Freeman. Both players get asked about their season seemingly every other day. Freeman and Betts each recorded three hits to carry the Dodgers to a 7-4 win over the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park.

In the three-game series against Boston, Freeman and Betts combined to record 14 hits. Over the six-game road trip, the two superstars tallied 29 hits, making them the primary reason the Dodgers are now 21-4 in August.

“You need more than two guys, but the way those guys are playing, you don’t need much more than that,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said with a smile. “I’ve never seen two guys in recent memory play the way they have on both sides of the baseball.”

Betts and Freeman wasted no time getting the offense going in the series finale. Betts led off the game with a single and Freeman doubled right behind him. While the offense couldn’t capitalize on the early chance, the frame did set the tone for the rest of the game.

With the Dodgers leading 1-0 following a fourth-inning James Outman solo homer, Freeman once again led the attack in the fifth, recording his 50th double of the season, which is a franchise record since the team moved to Los Angeles.

Freeman, whose previous career high in doubles was 47 last season, is now just 10 shy of 60, which hasn’t been done since the Tigers' Charlie Gehringer in 1936.

“They dominate the game,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of the Betts and Freeman duo. “Freddie has been locked in and Mookie is getting on base. It’s instant offense, it seems like, in two pitches, because Freddie is swinging and he has, what, 50 doubles. They’re tough. They’re a tough team.”

In the sixth, after watching Freeman run around the bases for a few innings, Betts wanted some part of the action. The 2018 AL MVP launched a two-run homer off left-hander Chris Murphy, his 35th of the season, which matches his career high that he set last season.

For Betts, it was the 66th homer at Fenway Park and it capped off a special weekend for the 10th-year superstar, who spent his first six seasons with the Red Sox. 

“All that the city [of Boston] has done for me and all everyone here has done for me, I’m very blessed and I thank everyone for the opportunity,” Betts said. “It definitely shaped me into who I am today.”

One of the lasting images of Betts at Fenway Park was his historic 2018 season. It’s still the year Betts considers the best of his career, but he’s getting awfully close to hitting some of those marks this season. His 35 homers are already three more than he had five years ago, and his 1.018 OPS is starting to creep up to that 1.078 mark he had in ‘18.

“2018, that was crazy,” Betts said. “If I can get anything near it, then I know I’ve done something good.”

Betts is certainly doing something good, and he has put himself in prime position to win a second MVP Award and a third World Series title. As he said goodbye to Boston on Sunday, he made sure to remind everyone at his old stomping grounds that he’s still one of the best players in the sport. 

“It'll be cool to win,” Betts said of the MVP race. “It’ll be super cool. I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t be cool. But the number one thing is winning the World Series, winning the division and playing well.”