Betts Pulls Back Potential HR with Great Grab
BOSTON — Chris Sale was taking a leisurely cruise through the Mariners’ lineup in Sunday afternoon’s eventual 5-0 win when Mookie Betts stepped up to keep things on track for the Red Sox.
After the hosts grabbed a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, Andrew Romine reached by way of a one-out bunt single in the top of the sixth and advanced to second on a fielder’s choice.
With two outs, up stepped Saturday night’s hero, Mitch Haniger, who put a charge into a 2-1 fastball from Sale, sending it toward the Mariners’ bullpen in right.
On his horse, Betts, who missed Saturday’s game due to illness, turned himself back into position as he tracked the long fly and leaped to make the catch in front of the bullpen, pulling two runs back from the brink and ending the inning in the process.
“I wasn’t sure, I thought it was pretty close,” Betts said of the shot having the chance to clear the wall before he intervened. “I just tried to get it out of the sun because it started to go toward the sun. I knew once I got out of it, I had a chance to catch it.”
Haniger’s ball left the bat with an exit velocity of 103.5 mph and a launch angle of 29 degrees, which, per Statcast™, has resulted in a home run eight out of 10 times since it began tracking such statistics in 2015.
There’s no doubting that Sale was pleased that his right fielder decided to buck the trend in this instance, as Boston tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the frame to add to its lead.
“A bloop and a blast can change the game there,” said Betts. “So you just try to keep them off the bases while he’s rolling.”
Betts wasn’t done aiding his pitching staff just yet, either.
In the ninth inning, Betts made 4-star grab look nearly routine as he covered 47 feet of right-field grass in just 3.3 seconds to track down a sinking Nelson Cruz shot that was launched with a 100.7 mph exit velocity.
The catch probability on the play was 33 percent, but the speedy right fielder was able to track it down for his second 4-star catch of the year, and more importantly left the Red Sox within one out of a win.