The Red Sox have two prodigious young outfielders right now. But with Jackie Bradley Jr. off on paternity leave, Mookie Betts went ahead and decided to shoulder the load for both of them with one of the best games you'll ever see out of a baseball player.
By all rights, Eduardo Rodriguez should've held the spotlight tonight. But Mookie Betts just never gave him a chance. Before he'd even taken the mound, Mookie Betts had hit his first homer of the night, hitting a low fastball a long way to straightaway center. Dustin Pedroia followed up with a shot of his own, and just like that, the Red Sox had Kevin Gausman, the most productive of the starters the Red Sox will face this series, reeling.
Importantly, they also gave returning starter Eduardo Rodriguez a lead to work with. While the young lefty would not be the star of this game, he would not fall too far down the rankings. His line is perhaps better than his performance truly was, but there were more positives than negatives here. His velocity? Not all the way back, but enough to keep hitters from punishing his fastball too much. His command? He struggled to find the inside corner against righties, but spotted pitches against lefties, and was able to hit his spots outside against righties as needed. The changeup was, at times, ridiculous.
There were certainly some troubling times. The third inning, in particular, was rough, with the Orioles pushing across a run and nearly making it three, but for a leaping catch at the wall from Chris Young robbing Manny Machado of what may very well have been a two-run homer. But the catch was made, Rodriguez made it into the fourth, and he did a pretty good job from there. The would put together another quick rally in the fifth to push across a run with two down, but Nolan Reimold grounded out, and Rodriguez was able to head into and finish the sixth to end his night on a positive note.
So Rodriguez didn't have enough to make the two runs he received in the first stand up. But long before the Orioles could meet that mark, Mookie Betts had already managed to finish ruining Kevin Gausman's night. In fact, it would happen in just the second inning. While Gausman had some relatively easy outs lined up, he just refused to take advantage of them. Failing to throw strikes to either Chris Young or Christian Vazquez, Gausman brought Betts back up to the plate with two on. This time, Betts didn't quite get all of Gausman's fastball, but he put just enough on it to flip it to left and just clearing the front of the wall for a three-run shot.
So that was a three-run lead for the Red Sox heading into the seventh after the last out of Rodriguez' night. But Mookie Betts was due up again, so it very quickly became four. Having already acquainted himself with left and center field, Betts greeted Dylan Bundy to the game by going the other way with his third homer of the night, sending it plenty deep to right to make it 6-2. Unwilling to contribute only on offense, though, Betts went ahead and made one of the most tremendous catches of the season in the bottom of the inning, covering a ton of distance and going fully horizontal to stop a bloop off the bat Paul Janish to save Robbie Ross Jr. a baserunner and end the inning.
From there, the only real event of note was a massive fly ball from Chris Davis against Koji Uehara. It might have been a two-run shot, but the ball was hit so damn high that the umpires couldn't get any better look at it on replay, leaving the foul call on the field to stand up. Other than that, with Xander already having extended his streak with a bloop single, and Betts failing to make it four homers, all that was left was for Craig Kimbrel to provide an easy ninth. Maybe not the most high-leverage outing he'll have, but in a game where the Sox could basically leave themselves playing with house money for the rest of the week...why not?