In a day of superlatives could anything really top the performance of Mookie Betts?
Betts electric started right from the beginning of the game with an outstanding catch robbing the Nationals’ Bryce Harper of a home run into the bullpen.
Before the 1st inning was done Betts would steal second and third base in a smart, heads up play that capitalized on a Washington shift that left third undefended. Later Betts said he and first base coach Arnie Beyeler had spoken about this possibility, but Betts’ intelligence, athleticism, and instinct continue to be impressive.
According to the Society for American Baseball Research, Betts basepad acumen marked only the 11th instance of a player stealing 2+ bases on the same play since 1915.
After scoring a run in the first Betts then clubbed his 2nd home run of the season, a three-run blast that put the Sox up early, 4-0.
Ortiz moves up
With a 6th inning, 419-foot home run David Oritz tied Chipper Jones at #32 on Baseball’s All-Time HR list. It was his 1,033rd extra-base hit tying Ortiz with Sammy Sosa at #28 on the all-time list in that category. With his next RBI Ortiz will tie Joe DiMaggio for the 46th-most in baseball history.
Against a tough Washington pitching staff Red Sox’ bats were solid. A seemingly more confident Xander Bogaerts went 2-for-3 while Pablo Sandoval has now scored a run in 5 straight games, tying the 2nd-long such streak in his career. His record is 6 games set April 7-13, 2012.
Catcher Sandy León, acquired for cash from the Nationals late in Spring Training after Christian Vazquez‘ season-ending injury, went 3-for-4 against his former club. The 3 hits were a career high for León who has appeared now in 37 MLB games since 2012.
Not to be overlooked, newcomer Rick Porcello picked up his first win as a Red Sox, allowing 4 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), and a walk over 8.0 innings pitched. He allowed 2 solo home runs while striking out 6. Of the 90 games in which Porcello has allowed a home run it was the 23rd where he has given up multiple roundtrippers.
Having lost 4 of their last 5 games it’s a good time to face the Nationals, who are favored by many to be World Series contenders in 2015. The Washington club is off to its worst start since the beginning of 2009 when they went 0-7.
On what was a beautiful day in Boston the Red Sox improved to 5-2 to stay atop the American League East. Monday’s win means the Sox are now 69-46 (.600) for all-time in home openers, including 10 of their last 11 first games.