Betts' 'big gamble' pays off for Red Sox

Betts' 'big gamble' pays off for Red Sox
July 9, 2014, 11:45 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

The Red Sox' walkoff win against the Chicago White Sox Wednesday night was capped in the ninth by a game-winning single from Brock Holt.

But the comeback really began in the eighth, thanks to some energy and instinctive play from Mookie Betts.

And speed. Don't forget about his speed. Even if the White Sox did, much to their regret.

"When you look back at the last couple of innings,'' said John Farrell, "Mookie Betts kind of stands out. An aggressive base running move, but yet he gets himself into scoring position and ends up scoring at least the first run for us.''

Betts led off the eighth with the Red Sox trailing 4-0. He hit a chopper to short. Shortstop Alexi Ramirez charged the ball and made a low throw to first that Jose Abreu dug out, but Betts barely beat it.

But quickly realizing that Ramirez had charged toward the plate and second baseman Gordon Beckham had raced over to first to back up the play, Betts spied a vacant second base and took off.

He then took third on a groundout and scored the first run of the night on a single by Dustin Pedroia and the comeback had begun.

"It was a big gamble,'' acknowledged Betts of his race to second. ''But Farrell says 'Be aggressive,' the same way I've been my whole career. I just saw the second baseman going to back up and I knew the shortstop had to come in on it, so second base had to have been open. I looked and just took a gamble and went.

"I looked and I don't know what happened. I don't know if I was confident (of making it to second safely). I really can't tell you how I felt about it. I just went.''

It wasn't the first infield double of his career, since Betts said he'd done it "a couple of times in the minor leagues. But the minor leagues is different.''
Betts' speed is a big part of his game, and in the eighth, it was on full display.

"I think that's probably my best attribute,'' said Betts. "It plays big part in going to get balls in the outfield, being able to beat out infield hits and kind of do what I did today.''

And still, Betts wasn't done. He was hit by a pitch from reliever Javy Guerra with one out in the ninth, then scored the tying run when pinch-hitter Daniel Nava stroked a double off The Wall in left.

As soon as the ball was hit, Betts knew he could score all the way from first.

"Absolutely,'' he confirmed. "I knew they weren't going to catch it, so I tried to put it in extra gear and make sure I made it.''

"I wish I was that fast,'' gushed Nava. "That would be nice. You saw that play he made, beating out the infield hit and getting to second. It's something that, you hear the adage, '(Speed) doesn't slump.' It makes up for a lot. I think we've been missing out on a lot of speed this year and it certainly came up big right there."

For the night, Betts had two hits and two runs scored, having doubled off Chris Sale in the fifth inning.

"It was kind of a relief to see some results,'' said Betts, who came into the game hitting just .174. "I know each and every day I have to continue to have quality at bats in order to enjoy some success. I don't know if (the double off a top starter) says I belong here. I can just tell myself that I can compete with the best of the best.''

Given the decision to designate veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski earlier in the day and a lineup boasting five rookies, the game had a different feel to it.

"It just shows that we have a good bunch of younger guys, along with the older guys as well,'' said Betts. "I don't think about the thing with A.J. I feel like we all just put our minds to the task at hand today.''

With electrifying results.