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Best Betts: Mookie starting to shine in July

Slugger ties club record for consecutive games with run scored
@IanMBrowne
July 18, 2019

BOSTON -- It turns out that when the calendar flipped to July, Mookie Betts got back to the best version of himself -- which is a dominant force at the top of the Red Sox’ batting order. On Thursday, with the Red Sox en route to a 5-0 victory over

BOSTON -- It turns out that when the calendar flipped to July, Mookie Betts got back to the best version of himself -- which is a dominant force at the top of the Red Sox’ batting order.

On Thursday, with the Red Sox en route to a 5-0 victory over the Blue Jays, Betts scored for the 13th straight game.

Boston’s last player to accomplish that feat was a guy named Ted Williams, who did it in 1946.

“Anytime your name is mentioned amongst those guys, you've done something right,” said Betts. “Just doing what I can to help the team win."

Of late, Betts has been doing quite a bit. In those 13 games in July, Betts is hitting .431 with 20 runs, 22 hits, and six doubles. His OPS is 1.155. The power was finally there on Thursday, as Betts ripped a homer off a light stanchion in left for his first of the month and 14th of the season. But the way Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts have been leaving the yard, the Red Sox need Betts to get on base a lot more than they need him to go deep.

And it’s likely no coincidence that the best stretch Betts has had this season has coincided with the move of the red-hot Devers to the No. 2 spot in the order.

“Aw, man, it's been a lot of fun,” said Betts. “I have one job and it's just to get on base and let him kind of take care of the rest. So it makes my job a little easier. Obviously, I may get a couple more pitches to hit because nobody wants to face him, and that's part of the game."

After winning the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award last season, Betts found it hard to reach that level in the first three months of the season. And for someone who holds himself to high standards, that was hard to deal with.

"It’s been a long season of some failure,” said Betts. “But things are kind of coming around. It seems I've learned what not to do."

Betts didn’t want to get too specific about what was holding him down, but he seems to have cleared the hurdle. That is bad news for Boston’s opponents the rest of the way.

“I think it's just going through, watching a lot of film, talking with the hitting guys and, just like I said, learning,” said Betts. “Everything I've tried is what not to do, so I've finally found something that's worked for a little while."

Chris Sale, who has had his share of struggles this season but returned to dominance on Thursday, can relate to what Betts went through.

“Mookie’s always been the same Mookie,” said Sale. “I couldn’t imagine what it’s like winning MVP and having to show up the next year and having to do it again. We all know what he’s capable of. He’s been unbelievable for us the entire year. I know he’s not hitting .370 like he was last year, but I don’t think we need him to. I think he’s starting to come around, and you saw it today.”

When Betts is clicking, the Red Sox are a run-scoring machine. And that’s exactly what they’ve been in July, scoring 84 runs in 13 games.

“I mean, we know how important he is,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “He was the MVP last year, one of the guys who carried the offense. He’s in a good spot with his swing. We never doubted him controlling the zone. We talked about that. Now that his swing is where he wants it, he becomes that much more dangerous.”

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.