Mookie Betts
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Watch: Mookie Betts belts three home runs in first three at-bats

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Red Sox slugger and defending AL MVP Mookie Betts decorated an impressive resume with yet another career first on Friday, collecting three home runs in his first three at-bats against the Yankees.

Betts worked a full count against New York starter James Paxton in the first inning, battling through an eight-pitch at-bat before finding a pitch he liked. He pounced on a 96.3-m.p.h. fastball and belted it out to the Green Monster, putting the Red Sox on the board with a solo shot.

While Andrew Cashner held the Yankees scoreless, Betts won contest after contest against Paxton. In the third, he led off again with another solo home run to left field, this one the product of a six-pitch battle against the southpaw.

Betts came up to bat a third time in the fourth inning, this time with two outs and Jackie Bradley Jr. on first. He worked a 3-0 count against Paxton, then returned a 87.4-m.p.h. cutter over the top of the Green Monster for his third consecutive home run, boosting the Red Sox to a 7-0 advantage over the Yankees.

While Betts’ next at-bat ended in a double, he’ll add Friday’s feat to his four previous three-homer games. This appears to be the first in which he managed all three home runs in his first three at-bats of the game.

Entering the series, the four-time All-Star slashed .283/.395/.479 with 15 home runs, a league-leading 92 runs scored, and an .874 OPS through 484 plate appearances in 2019. Per MLB.com’s Ian Browne, Betts is just one three-homer game away from tying the all-time record held by Johnny Mize and Sammy Sosa. As things stand now, his five-game record is tied with those of fellow home run hitters Álex RodrÍguez, Mark McGwire, Dave Kingman, Carlos Delgado, and Joe Carter.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.