CLEVELAND -- If this is, as many suspect, the season Mookie Betts will emerge into an All-Star, the gifted right fielder and leadoff man is off to a rousing start.Betts was in the middle of the action at the plate (two-run homer in the top of the third) and in
CLEVELAND -- If this is, as many suspect, the season Mookie Betts will emerge into an All-Star, the gifted right fielder and leadoff man is off to a rousing start.
Betts was in the middle of the action at the plate (two-run homer in the top of the third) and in the field (sensational catch in the fifth) in helping the Red Sox to a 6-2 victory over the Indians on Tuesday's Opening Day.
Betts, as David Ortiz pointed out, is good for the game of baseball.
"Superstar," said Ortiz. "He's got that swag. He got what the game needs right now, you know what I'm saying? You just have to let that kid play and enjoy. You don't see that every day. That's him. He doesn't surprise me at all anymore. He's always out there doing things. He's super athletic. Happy to have him here as always, and he's enjoyable to watch."
And enjoyable to manage also.
"A young special player," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Evident by what he was able to do today on both sides of the baseball. I think we're in for a treat for a young player who has such skills and the dynamic ability he has. He's a fun guy to watch."
When Betts put a charge into a 91-mph sinker on the inner half from Indians ace Corey Kluber, he couldn't be sure it would be a home run.
The weather -- which included a game-time temperature of 34 degrees -- was on everyone's mind early on in a game that is believed to be the coldest opener ever in Cleveland.
"I hit a couple good in BP, and they didn't make it to the warning track," said Betts. "I figured today wasn't my day. Fortunately, it snuck over the fence."
According to Statcast™, the two-run homer by Betts that gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead had an exit velocity of 107-mph and traveled 407 feet. Of the 18 homers Betts hit in 2015, his highest exit velocity was 105.7.
Imagine what he might have done on a warmer day?
David Price sure did enjoy having Betts playing behind him for the first time.
On a liner to deep right by Rajai Davis to open the fifth, Betts motored back and made a dazzling leaping catch.
A wide smile came across Price's face as he applauded into his glove.
"Needed it," said Price. "That was a big catch. The first out of an inning, the leadoff guy in Rajai, he's extremely fast, so I know out of the box he's thinking triple. To be able to make that play, that's huge. That's why he's got Jordans on the feet. He can hang in the air a little bit longer than everybody else."
As it turned out, Betts needed some hang time on that one to complete the play.
"Yeah, I jumped a little early," said Betts. "But God gave me the ability to hang in the air some way."
*Ian Browne * is a reporter for MLB.com.