Los Angeles outfielder Mookie Betts put himself in rarefied company with a standout performance in the Dodgers’ Game 1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in the 116th World Series on Tuesday.
Betts sparked the Dodgers’ four-run fifth inning with a walk and two stolen bases, joining Babe Ruth as the only players in World Series history to record such an inning.
After walking to lead off the inning, Betts stole second base. After Corey Seager walked, Betts reached third on a double steal, giving the Dodgers runners on second and third with one out.
Betts took an aggressive stance off the bag at third and when teammate Max Muncy hit a ground ball to first, Rays first baseman Yandy Diaz could not get the ball to the plate in time to prevent him from scoring on a head-first slide.
Betts said that the base-stealing was a way to create “havoc” on the base paths.
“That’s just another element that Mookie brings,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He does a lot of studying to be able to create stress.”
Betts added a leadoff homer in the bottom of the sixth — his first hit of the night — joining Chase Utley as the only players with a homer and two stolen bases in a World Series game.
Utley also did it against the Rays — for the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 1 of the 2008 World Series.
Betts is the only player in World Series history to post a home run, two stolen bases and two runs scored in a single game.
“I like winning,” Betts said when asked whether scoring or driving in runs gave him more satisfaction. “Whichever one is needed that day, I like doing that. You can’t do just one, you have to do both.”
Betts, who joined the Dodgers prior to this season after helping the Boston Red Sox beat them in the 2018 World Series, has deliberately honed every aspect of his game.
He made spectacular catches in games 6 and 7 of the National League Championship Series as the Dodgers rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Atlanta Braves and give themselves a third shot in four years at their first World Series title since 1988.
“It’s so fun to watch,” Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger said.
“He does all the little things right. You can really learn from that,” Bellinger said.
“I told myself I just wanted to be consistent,” Betts said of his approach to the game. “Watching the greats, they are all just really consistent. They hit home runs constantly, they drive in runs constantly, they walk constantly and they make good plays consistently. It is not just one and then a long period of time before another one.”
“You have to be good at all aspects of game all the time and not take plays off,” he said.
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who took the Game 1 win, said that Betts was “pretty special.”
However, Betts, who in July agreed to a contract extension worth a reported US$365 million over 12 years, said that he has more work to do.
“I did a good job, but my main responsibility is to win a World Series,” Betts said. “That’s all I’m trying to do.”
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