TORONTO -- It was Mookie Betts who got the Red Sox off to a roaring start on this road trip with his big bat. So it's only fitting that as the three-city journey starts to wind down, it was Betts who lifted his team off the mat from a three-game
TORONTO -- It was Mookie Betts who got the Red Sox off to a roaring start on this road trip with his big bat. So it's only fitting that as the three-city journey starts to wind down, it was Betts who lifted his team off the mat from a three-game losing streak.
The star right fielder drilled two homers -- including one that led off the game -- to propel the Red Sox to a 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.
The second long ball was a two-run drive to the opposite field in right with one out in the seventh that put Boston back in front by a run.
"Two good swings. The one to the opposite field, that was a great swing," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "Obviously, the one on the 2-0 count to start up the game, it seems like we needed something like that, especially after the last few days to get the lead. I know they scored right away, but it felt good."
In the seven games Betts has played on the trip, he has six homers. Three of them have led off the game, extending his team record for career leadoff home runs to 14.
"It's been a lot of fun," said Betts. "Just trying to do what I can to help us win."
As Cora found out while emerging out of the first losing streak of his managerial career, it's good to have a player like Betts when things aren't quite clicking on all cylinders.
"They're special," Cora said when asked about players like Betts. "Like the Trouts or Altuves, the more at-bats they get, the better you feel about it. Right away, he hits the ball out of the ballpark and you start thinking, 'Special night for him.' I'm glad that he's on my team."
Eduardo Rodriguez worked 6 2/3 innings and scattered six hits and three runs to earn the win that pushed the Red Sox to 18-5 and set up a rubber match of this three-game series on Thursday, which will conclude a trip that started on the West Coast.
Craig Kimbrel came on in the ninth to pick up his sixth save, one night after he gave up a walk-off homer to Curtis Granderson.
The offense was led by Betts and supported by Brock Holt, who had three more hits and six in the last two nights to raise his average from .244 to .327.
"Anybody who has Mookie on their side is going to be happy," said Rodriguez. "To have a guy like that who can hit the ball out of the ballpark and do all the things he does, it's pretty fun to see that."
The Red Sox saw this type of greatness from Betts on a consistent basis two years ago, when he finished second in the American League's Most Valuable Player Award voting. Last year, he showed flashes and had a solid year but wasn't at the top of his game.
Betts appears positioned to have a monster 2018 at the age of 25.
"I think just learning, a lot of learning with the new hitting [coaches] and J.D. [Martinez]," Betts said. "And just putting things together and actually learning how to use my strength instead of just going off ability. I use my ability obviously, too, but not just that, adding some strength to that."
Betts back at his best isn't great news for the rest of the AL.
"He's at the top of the game," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "He can beat you in so many ways. He's one of those guys who will be in the MVP running every year, I have to believe. But he'll beat you with his glove too. He's at a different level than most of them."
When the Red Sox go deep, it's likely they are going to win. Boston is 11-2 in games with at least one homer and 8-1 with two or more homers.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
On a fly ball struck pretty well into right field by Rafael Devers in the seventh, it seemed all but certain that Andrew Benintendi would score an insurance run on what should have been a sacrifice fly. But Benintendi left the bag early and had to retreat. Why? It turns out he was screened on the play.
"He said that the umpire was actually in sight, you know, between him and [right fielder Randal] Grichuk," said Cora. "It was the umpire and him, and he couldn't see and he took off early and went back. Just a baserunning mistake."
HE SAID IT
"Good win for us. Good win for the Bruins. Everybody is pulling for them over here. Mookie did his thing, again." -- Red Sox slugger and Bruins supporter Hanley Ramirez
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
All kinds of things were happening on a fly ball to left-center by Holt in the fourth. Left fielder Steve Pearce fell down on his first step, preventing him from catching what turned into a double. Thinking the ball was going to be caught, Jackie Bradley Jr. started back-tracking from third to second, and he was nearly passed on the bases by Christian Vazquez. Bradley wound up scoring on the play when the ball dropped. The Blue Jays issued a challenge in case Vazquez did pass Bradley, but the replay official confirmed that was not the case and Holt had an RBI double.
Ace Chris Sale finishes off this road trip for the Red Sox on Thursday night when he pitches at one of his favorite venues. Lifetime at Rogers Centre, Sale is 4-1 with a 0.96 ERA. Last year, didn't allow a run in his three starts at Toronto covering 22 innings. Marco Estrada starts for the Jays, and first pitch is set for 7:07 p.m. ET.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.