Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts broke a scoreless tie in the third inning of Monday night’s game against the Orioles, sending a 2-0 Dylan Bundy fastball into the left field seats at Camden Yards. It’s his 31st home run and he now has 108 RBI and a .315 average as well — numbers eerily similar to DH David Ortiz, his teammate.
Here’s video of the home run Betts hit on Monday night.
What’s even more striking is how badly Betts has owned the Orioles this season. Entering Monday’s action, Betts had a .318/.426/.825 triple-slash line with eight home runs and 19 RBI in 68 plate appearances against the Orioles this season. Isolating for games played at Camden Yards, Betts carried a .500/.571/1.375 triple-slash line with seven home runs and 13 RBI in 28 plate appearances. You can do the math to add tonight’s performance.
Betts has a very real chance to take home the American League Most Valuable Player Award. Mike Trout is the runaway favorite going by Wins Above Replacement, but some voters will discredit him because the Angels aren’t in a playoff race. Josh Donaldson has been banged up and slumping. Jose Altuve has been slumping. Manny Machado has similar numbers, but Betts has 24 stolen bases to Machado’s zero.
The Red Sox came into Monday’s action with a three-game lead over the Orioles for first place in the AL East. Betts chose the right team to antagonize.
Royals starter Yordano Venutra is known for a lot of things when he’s out on the mound. He has a bit of a temper. He’s inconsistent but can throw like an ace at times. One thing he has never been known for is throwing deep into ballgames. Coming into Monday afternoon’s start against the White Sox, he averaged fewer than six innings over those 90 starts. Ventura failed to record at least an out in the seventh inning in 18 of 29 starts this season.
Monday afternoon was a different story. Ventura was on point, relenting single runs in the second, fourth, and seven innings, ultimately getting his first complete game win. He gave up the three runs on nine hits and a walk with five strikeouts. It was the first time he pitched into the ninth inning since July 4, 2014. And it’s his second complete game overall, as he pitched eight innings in a complete game loss against the Rangers on July 28 this year.
The White Sox got their runs on a Todd Frazier RBI single in the second, a Jose Abreu solo homer in the fourth, and a Carlos Sanchez solo homer in the seventh.
Ventura was aided by some nifty defense as right fielder Paulo Orlando made a terrific catch tracking down an Omar Narvaez fly ball to right-center. It’s one of the better catches we’ve seen this season.
Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez smacked a pair of homers — including one to break a 4-4 tie in the seventh inning — to help beat the Yankees on Sunday night. That improved his club’s record to 85-64. As the Orioles also won on Sunday, the Red Sox maintained a three-game lead in the AL East. The Blue Jays lost, so they fell to third place, four games back.
The truth is, Ramriez has been swinging a hot bat since the end of August. Over 21 games between August 27 and September 18, Ramirez is hitting .390/.444/.866 with 12 home runs and 29 RBI in 90 plate appearances. To put that in perspective, he has hit 43 percent of his home runs and driven in 27 percent of his runs in less than 16 percent of his total plate appearances over the last three-plus weeks. On the season overall, Ramirez has a .294/.364/.517 triple-slash line with 28 home runs and 106 RBI in 574 PA.
Along with the offense, Ramirez has also been contributing in a leadership role for the Red Sox, as Michael Silverman reports for the Boston Herald. Ramirez is quiet and has led more by example. With David Ortiz retiring, he and Dustin Pedroia will be the veteran leaders in the clubhouse going forward.