Mookie Betts is something else.
Two days ago, Betts was the biggest contributor in a 16-2 barn burner, clubbing three home runs as the Red Sox crushed the Diamondbacks. It was an incredible performance, but with so many other hitters abusing Arizona's pitching staff, can only be called so important.
He didn't go deep three times Tuesday, but what he did do in adding two more bombs to his total was pick up the Red Sox and carry them on his back to their fifth straight win, this one in a key game against a division rival.
This was very close to being a nice easy win for the Red Sox, but two lefties went wrong for the Red Sox in very different ways. First, Eduardo Rodriguez, in a way that should draw only concern rather than ire, as when it came to the actual pitching, there was nothing not to like. Rodriguez very much continued his excellent run through the second half Tuesday night against the Orioles. He was not only keeping the Orioles out of the run column, but the hit column as well, mowing down the Baltimore lineup early on, and only getting stronger as he went along, striking out Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado, and Mark Trumbo in order to get through the fourth.
To that point, the Red Sox had not managed to do any more permanent damage to the Orioles than the Orioles had done to them. The third had brought some late promise as a low throw from Yovani Gallardo allowed Dustin Pedroia to reach base on a two-out swinging bunt, sparking a bit of a rally to load the bases. But in this at bat Mookie Betts could not come through, flying out to right to end the threat.
Betts would get his chance to make up for the waste in the fifth. To that point in the inning, the only out the Orioles had managed was a line drive from Dustin Pedroia off the glove of Yovani Gallardo that bounced right to J.J. Hardy. That brought Mookie up to bat with just two on rather than three, so when he belted a hanging slider into the left field stands, it was only good for a three-run lead.
Unfortunately, the jubilation did not last very long. Two pitches into the bottom of the fifth, Eduardo Rodriguez would leave both the field and the game with the trainer, inspiring no small amount of fear for Red Sox fans (the team would announce he was suffering from "hamstring tightness" which doesn't sound like a big deal). That would bring Matt Barnes into action, and while he finished off Rodriguez' 2-0 start to Steve Pearce with a walk, he retired the next seven hitters he faced to get the Sox one out into the seventh.
There, however, the no-hitter would die on Barnes' watch in the most unsatisfying of ways following a Mark Trumbo Walk, with Brock Holt failing to convert a desperation attempt on a Pearce dribbler to the left of the mound. That brought Fernando Abad into the game, and a Red Sox stint that was already off to a terrible start just continued to spiral out of control. Abad walked Chris Davis on four pitches and then, allowed to face Matt Wieters for some reason (he's had more success against lefties in 2016, but in the much more significant sample of his entire career, he hits lefties significantly better than righties), surrendered a first-pitch base knock into left to bring home a pair of runs. Brad Ziegler would manage to strike out J.J. Hardy, but with a single and a walk, the Orioles tied it up.
Once again tasked with bailing out the bullpen, the Red Sox lineup went back to work in a hurry. David Ortiz managed to barely beat the shift, grounding into right field for a single, bringing Mookie Betts up to bat with yet another chance. And though he'd already done more than his fair share in Camden Yards, he kept on going the extra mile. After painting low and away with his first pitch, Brad Bach tried to bust Betts inside with a fastball on his second, and didn't get far enough in. Where Betts' first homer was a low rocket off what was almost a base-hit swing, this time he put some more loft into it. Hyun-Soo Kim at least had a go at climbing the wall in left, but could only watch as the fans scrambled for a souvenir.
Five runs scored by the Red Sox, five driven in by Mookie Betts. With seemingly little reason to fear for Eduardo Rodriguez' health, the Sox can enjoy another night on a roll, perhaps perusing Pawtucket's roster for another reliever to try.