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You'll want to see this STUNNING Mookie throw

Avisaíl García tried to run on the reigning AL MVP. It ended poorly.
@IanMBrowne
September 24, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- By his own estimation, Mookie Betts made the best throw of his life on Monday night at Tropicana Field. It was the best of the season for the Red Sox, and possibly the best in the Majors. The fact that it happened in a 7-4 loss to

ST. PETERSBURG -- By his own estimation, Mookie Betts made the best throw of his life on Monday night at Tropicana Field.

It was the best of the season for the Red Sox, and possibly the best in the Majors.

The fact that it happened in a 7-4 loss to the Rays was almost beside the point, considering Boston was eliminated from the postseason race on Friday.

Box score

The most amazing thing about the throw is that Betts -- a supreme athlete who excels in every aspect of his sport -- shocked himself.

“Yeah, I didn’t know I could do that,” said Betts. “It’s fun to kind of do stuff that you didn’t know you could do.”

So here is a recap of what Betts did.

When Avisaíl García ripped one into the corner in right in the bottom of the sixth to drive in a run, it seemed like just another highlight for the Rays in their quest to gain ground on their competitors in the Wild Card race.

But as Betts dug the ball out from the warning track, he fired the ball 305 feet and into the glove of third baseman Rafael Devers -- who slapped down the tag to easily erase García. The throw never touched the ground.

Betts wasn’t the only one who was surprised by his feat.

“It surprised me a little bit,” said García. “He’s a tremendous outfielder and that was a tremendous throw. That was an incredible play by him.”

As Betts saw the play unfold, a slight smile came across his face. He then gestured with his hands toward the befuddled relievers stationed in Tampa Bay’s bullpen, as if to say, “I don’t even know how I did that.”

It was reminiscent of a similar gesture by Michael Jordan to broadcaster Magic Johnson (sitting courtside) after the basketball Hall of Famer drilled six three-pointers in the first half of Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals.

When the great ones surprise themselves, that’s when you truly know something special has happened.

“I was talking to their bullpen,” said Betts. “They looked at me and I was like, ‘I don’t know?’”

Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. has made throws like that before -- such as the one that Statcast tracked at 103.4 mph on June 19 of last season to nail Robbie Grossman at the plate in Minneapolis. Yet even he was impressed by Betts’ throw.

“It’s a great throw,” said Bradley. “I remember him doing a similar play like that either last year or two years ago, here as well. He proved once again that he’s elite.”

The throw Bradley was referring to actually happened in 2016, when Betts threw out Kevin Kiermaier in his pursuit of a triple. But that throw bounced, and it wasn’t from the warning track.

“Yeah, that’s probably the best throw I’ve ever thrown,” said Betts.

As for what he was thinking as the play developed in real time?

“Obviously he hit it down the line and I was trying to get to it quick to keep him from going to third and when it ricocheted off the wall, that’s when he decided to go and I just did all I could to get it there and that’s pretty much all I’ve got,” said Betts.

There was no thought about hitting the cutoff man.

“Yeah, I mean, nobody was going to be on base so I might as well [let it fly],” said Betts. “I think that was going to be the only way I was going to get him out.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora has watched baseball just about every day of every season for about as long as he can remember, and he offered this:

“I’ve never seen a throw from that far right on the money,” Cora said.

It was the 10th assist of the season for Betts, who is aiming to win his fourth straight Gold Glove Award for his excellence in right field. Assuming Betts is successful in that quest, it’s fairly obvious which play will lead his highlight reel.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.