Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts added a signature highlight to what could be an MVP season Thursday. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Betts smacked a clutch home run off Ken Giles to become the first player to hit for the cycle in 2018.
Betts accomplished the feat in his final at-bat. With a 3-2 count, Betts hit an 85.6 mph slider from Giles out to left for the solo home run. That was exactly what he needed to complete the cycle.
Prior to that at-bat, Betts had already terrorized the Toronto Blue Jays. He opened the game with a single in the first inning. In the second inning, Betts picked up a crucial triple. Two innings later, he had his double.
Betts had his first shot at the cycle in the sixth inning. After getting into an 0-2 hole to start the at-bat, Betts managed to work a walk.
His ninth-inning home run capped a career night. Betts finished the game 4-for-4, with two runs, one RBI and a walk. He reached base in all five of his plate appearances.
Betts’ heroics were not enough for Boston, however. The team failed to complete the late comeback, losing 8-5.
Betts’ production in 2018 has been nearly unmatched. Following Thursday’s game, he’s hitting an incredible .347/.434/.668, with 27 home runs.
Coming into Thursday’s game, Betts trailed both Mike Trout and José Ramírez in fWAR. The gap between the three players was just 0.6, meaning you can make a legitimate case for any of that trio to win the award.
Betts no doubt saw that figure rise following his cycle, and the accomplishment gives him a key highlight that voters may remember at the end of the season.
It takes a lot to unseat Trout — and Ramírez — but, as he showed Thursday, Betts has the potential to do it.
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