Mookie Betts’ candidacy for National League hardware got an early boost on Friday night with the kind of throw previous Dodgers right fielders Yasiel Puig and Cody Bellinger would make. And then he made his case for an NL Silver Slugger with a home run, double and RBI single in a 5-3 loss to Arizona.
Ketel Marte led off the bottom of the first inning with a broken-bat looper just inside the right-field line. As Betts hustled to cut the ball off in foul ground before it reached the corner, Marte had rounded second base and was headed for third.
Betts unloaded a throw on the fly, 305 feet, to shortstop Corey Seager covering third base, and he slapped the tag on Marte for a spectacular first out.
“I knew it was a sure double, he had speed, so I tried to get there as fast as possible,” said Betts. “It didn’t look like he was slowing down, so I needed to get rid of it quick. Fortunately, I put on a good throw.”
The play was nearly identical to one Betts pulled off last September for Boston, also 305 feet from the right-field corner to third base to erase Avisaíl García.
“Knowing I had done it before, it was in the back of my mind that I had to get there just in case he goes to third,” Betts said. “I figured I had to try to get rid of it as fast as possible.”
The play quickly changed the tone for Dodgers rookie starting pitcher Tony Gonsolin, who was called up to make a fill-in start for the injured Alex Wood.
“Gotta give props to Mookie right there, great throw,” said Gonsolin. “I appreciate it. Picked me up.”
Betts’ first home run as a Dodger leading off the fourth inning had a similar degree of difficulty, as he somehow drove a Zac Gallen inside changeup down the left-field line without pulling it foul.
“I was just kind of swinging to stay in the at-bat,” Betts said. “I don’t know how it stayed fair, but it did.”
His one-out RBI single in the fifth inning cashed in Edwin Ríos’ leadoff double. And he legged a double with two out in the top of the ninth to put the tying run in scoring position after a one-out walk to Matt Beaty.
“Glove. Bat. Arm. He had a great night out there,” manager Dave Roberts said of Betts. “I guess that’s why he’s wearing gold out there.”
Betts was a four-time Gold Glove and three-time Silver Slugger winner in the American League with Boston.