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Coming off bench, Betts wows again for Sox

Center fielder collects two RBI singles, makes leaping catch at the wall
MLB.com

BOSTON -- Red Sox manager John Farrell preached the importance of preparation to Mookie Betts before Saturday's 8-3 win over the Angels. And when Shane Victorino left the game with an injury in the third inning, forcing Betts to play on his scheduled day off, that advice seemed more prescient than ever.

"When I have days off, he never says it's just a full day off," Betts said. "You're not starting, but be ready to go at any given time."

Full Game Coverage

BOSTON -- Red Sox manager John Farrell preached the importance of preparation to Mookie Betts before Saturday's 8-3 win over the Angels. And when Shane Victorino left the game with an injury in the third inning, forcing Betts to play on his scheduled day off, that advice seemed more prescient than ever.

"When I have days off, he never says it's just a full day off," Betts said. "You're not starting, but be ready to go at any given time."

Full Game Coverage

Coming in for Victorino, the 22-year-old swatted a pair of RBI singles, reached base on an error and made yet another jaw-dropping defensive play in center field.

The web gem, which came in the ninth inning, featured Betts running back to the warning track, bracing against the outfield wall and executing a well-timed jump to rob David Freese of a leadoff hit.

The sold-out crowd responded to the effort.

"Mookie swung the bat great tonight. Makes one heck of a play in the ninth inning going against the center-field wall," Farrell said. "Vic, his left calf tightened up, had to get him out of there. So Mookie was on call even before the game started if a situation like this arose -- it did."

Video: LAA@BOS: Betts laces single to left to plate Holt

Though the Fenway outfield has proven notoriously difficult for even veteran defenders to navigate over the years, Betts has already made several plays look easy. The results, he said, are a product of extensive work with first-base coach Arnie Beyeler.

"It's going to get easier at some point," Betts said. "Just getting used to the field. Still got a lot of learning to do."

Though Betts has struggled at times this season, posting a .297 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot, he has a nose for spectacular plays. Saturday's performance proved that, whether starter or replacement, this is certainly still the case.

"Whether he's starting or this is the first time he came off the bench, it sure didn't look like he changed his approach at the plate," Farrell said.

Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts