'Just my job': Mookie dazzles in LA's 27th comeback win

Outfielder caps rally with 3-run homer in 8th, ends game with outstanding diving catch

July 22nd, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- First, Mookie Betts put the Dodgers ahead with his bat. Then, he sealed the win over the Giants with his glove.

The National League West rivals got the second half off to a rollicking start, trading leads in an eventual 9-6 Dodgers victory. Betts’ three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth was the decisive blow, and he made a fantastic diving catch for the game’s final out.

“He just showcased what a great all-around ballplayer he is,” said manager Dave Roberts. “Gosh, he did everything. He showed all of his skills tonight, with the bat, with the legs, with the glove, obviously. Clutch moment with the big three-run homer. That’s why he’s one of the best in the game.”

Los Angeles got out to an early lead -- going up 5-0 through three -- in support of starter Mitch White, who threw five-plus scoreless innings. But a tough top of the seventh saw the Giants tie the game on a Darif Ruf grand slam off of Alex Vesia. A bases-loaded walk by Evan Phillips gave the Giants the lead in the top of the eighth.

With right-hander Dominic Leone pitching the bottom of the eighth, Gavin Lux hit a one-out double, and came in to score on a game-tying triple by Trayce Thompson. Leone gave way to lefty Jarlín García, against whom Cody Bellinger -- who was celebrating his bobblehead night -- worked a walk. Up came Betts, who crushed a middle-middle changeup a Statcast-projected 406 feet to left field. It was Betts’ 21st homer of the season.

Rather than focus on his feat, Betts put the emphasis on the strong at-bats from his teammates that gave him the opportunity to give the Dodgers the lead.

“I mean, that's just what we do,” said Betts. “That's why we're good. We play the full 27 outs, we grind each at-bat, nobody really gives up, gives away at-bats.”

As if the home run wasn’t enough, when Joc Pederson hit a well-struck liner off Craig Kimbrel with two outs in the top of the ninth, Betts ran a long distance -- 62 feet -- to track it down, going into full extension to snag the ball to end the game.

It was the second time Pederson was on the wrong end of a great defensive play Thursday night, with Trea Turner making an impressive sliding grab in the fourth inning.

Betts said he knew he was going to catch the ball off the bat, and responded humbly when asked about how big of a moment it was for him.

“It's just a catch, man,” said Betts. “If it was the end of the game or the beginning of the game, it’s just a catch. It's still an out the same way there’ll be 26 more. I don't get too excited about those -- it’s just my job. It’s what I’m supposed to do.”

Thompson was also not surprised to see Betts make the catch, though he was more willing to speak to Betts’ greatness.

“The guy’s one of the best in the game out there,” said Thompson. “He gets amazing jumps. Obviously, everyone knows how good of a hitter [and] all-around player he is, but as a defender -- and especially as a guy that has an infield background -- it's pretty incredible. I mean, he has all the accolades you could ever think of.”

If there was any lingering doubt about Betts’ physical well-being after he missed two weeks in late June to early July with a fractured right rib, his performance on Thursday night should alleviate all concern. The All-Star said the rib isn’t bothering him at all, and that he’s “fully healthy.”

That frees him up to focus exclusively on his game -- and allows him to do things like be the two-way hero in the Dodgers’ NL-leading 27th comeback win of the season.

“Just trying to do what I can to help the team win,” said Betts. “Had to do a couple of different things, but, you know, God blessed me with those abilities.”