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Mookie Betts continues to lead the way for Red Sox

Via Providence Journal

TORONTO — His slash line isn’t of much concern to Mookie Betts.

The Red Sox outfielder leads the big leagues in slugging and OPS, but Betts is more focused on hard numbers as Boston’s leadoff man, an approach that’s paying significant dividends to this point in the season.

“The RBI, runs — those are the most important things to me,” Betts said after Saturday’s 5-2 win over the Blue Jays. “Those are things that obviously help the team win.”

Betts tends to do a lot of those things. He entered Sunday’s series finale at Rogers Centre first in the big leagues in runs scored (41), extra-base hits (29) and total bases (103). His 39 runs through 38 games were the most in franchise history, passing the likes of Ted Williams (1942) and Tris Speaker (1912) with 38 apiece.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a player do so many things so well,” Boston right-hander Rick Porcello said. “The best right fielder, one of the best baserunners, he hits for average, he hits for power, he doesn’t strike out — what more could you ask for in a ballplayer?”

Betts also tends to do these things when they matter, as illustrated by his performances in Boston’s last two victories. The Red Sox prevented a series sweep against the Yankees in the Bronx, maintaining a share of first place in the American League East, and rebounded from a 12-inning loss against Toronto on Friday with a win the following night. Betts was the catalyst in each victory, helping stake Boston to 3-0 leads in each game.

“As the leadoff guy, that’s kind of what I’m supposed to do,” Betts said. “Get on base and try to do whatever I can to affect the game with my legs. Try to do everything I can to score.”

Betts opened the final night at Yankee Stadium with a ground-rule double to right and scored on an infield groundout by Hanley Ramirez in the top of the first. He singled to center in the third and came around again thanks to Ramirez, who legged out an infield single.

“It’s funny because in batting practice he was saying how awful he feels,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said on Thursday. “He didn’t feel right today. He goes up there and gets three hits or whatever. He put a good at-bat in the first one to set the tempo.”

It was more of the same against the Blue Jays on Saturday. Betts doubled to left leading off the top of the third, the first in a string of three straight extra-base hits. He doubled to left again in the ninth, plating a key insurance run that prevented the Blue Jays from having any hopes of tying things up with a walk and a two-run homer.

“If you focus on things that can change throughout the season you’ll be worried about it the whole time,” Betts said. “If you focus on the things that can only go up, I think you’ll kind of clear your mind and worry about less.”

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