CINCINNATI -- The Red Sox won without their most dynamic player on Saturday. But it's a good thing Mookie Betts returned from his left foot contusion on Sunday, because there's no chance the Red Sox would have pulled out a series-sweeping 5-4 victory over the Reds and trimmed their AL
CINCINNATI -- The Red Sox won without their most dynamic player on Saturday. But it's a good thing Mookie Betts returned from his left foot contusion on Sunday, because there's no chance the Red Sox would have pulled out a series-sweeping 5-4 victory over the Reds and trimmed their AL East magic number to three without the All-Star right fielder.
What did Betts do to make this comeback win from a 4-1 deficit possible? Well, just about everything.
"This is a reason to come back to the park," said Betts. "I try and affect the game in every way. I was able to do it today in a couple of different ways. Just continue to work and do what I can."
It was Betts who worked a tough at-bat against strong Reds closer Raisel Iglesias in the eighth inning and hammered a bases-clearing, game-tying double over the glove of Reds left fielder Phillip Ervin.
And just moments later, it was Betts who had the bold ambition to score the go-ahead run from second on an infield tapper by Rafael Devers to third base.
"Certainly, the Betts play, you could see that one unfolding," said Reds manager Bryan Price. "We're trying to get that out and end the inning. The throw just gets Joey [Votto] off the bag and gets him off his feet where he has a chance to score from second there on the two-out chopper."
When the Red Sox pulled out their fourth comeback from three runs or more on this road trip, you could look back to the defense of Betts in the early innings and how it kept the deficit manageable. He hit cutoff man Xander Bogaerts in the first, and Bogaerts fired a strike to nail Scooter Gennett at third base.
Three innings later, Betts did all the work himself, firing to third to retire Zack Cozart, who thought he could go first to third on one of the best outfield arms in the game.
"The way he played today it shows you every skill set he has," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He cut down two baserunners with his arm strength, he drives the ball into the gap to clear the bases to tie things up and then the instinctual baserunner he is -- he is dynamic on the basepaths."
When it came to that key at-bat in the eighth with the bases loaded, there was nobody the Red Sox would have wanted at the plate more than Betts. He worked the count to 2-0, then hit a 2-2 pitch that had the distance to be a grand slam, but it sailed foul by 15 or 20 feet. Two pitches later, Betts got the one he liked -- a "hanger" as he called it -- and he roped it for his 46th double of the season.
"That was a huge at-bat for him, for us, putting a lot of runs on the board," said Red Sox right-hander Doug Fister. "A lot of excitement, and that brought a lot of uplifting feelings in the dugout. Guys are ready to get going. That's a huge thing for us."
With two outs, when Devers hit the roller to third, it was hard to imagine that Betts was going to score on the play.
"He has got such instincts," said Farrell. "His decision making is typically spot-on, but the flash in which he has to make those decisions is really impeccable, the way he never seems to run into an out. And more times than not, we're looking at an impact in the game, and there was obviously no bigger impact than today.
"Mookie never broke stride, certainly was an exciting play and an exciting player that you saw all dimensions from today."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.