The National League West is still the Dodgers’ division to lose. Mookie Betts made sure the San Diego Padres remembered that on a night when he was presented with his 2019 Silver Slugger award, then produced a breakout performance for his new team worthy of the honor.
Betts smashed three home runs in the Dodgers' 11-2 win Thursday for the record-tying sixth time in his career. In doing so, he helped prevent the upstart Padres from leapfrogging the Dodgers in the standings and sending Los Angeles down to third place, below San Diego and the surprisingly strong division-leading Colorado Rockies. With Betts now firmly on fire, it’s hard to imagine this team being in danger of that position again anytime soon.
Heading into Thursday, the Padres had claimed two of the first three contests this week between the division rivals in Dodger Stadium. San Diego sent ace Chris Paddack to the hill after losing two of three to Los Angeles at home last week. Paddack’s second pitch of the game hit Betts and sent him to first base. Betts returned the favor the next inning by hitting a first-pitch fastball over the wall in right-center for a two-run homer that extended LA’s lead to 5-2.
By the time Betts came up again in the fourth, Paddack already had hit the showers, having given up six runs in three innings. Reliever Luis Perdomo proceeded to serve up Betts’ second dinger, a solo shot that secured the 27-year-old’s 17th career multi-homer game.
The third one was another majestic drive to left-center off Perdomo that scored Los Angeles’ 11th run of the game and 107th of the season, tying them for the MLB lead.
With three home runs in five innings, he seemed destined to become the first hitter with four home runs in a game since his former Red Sox teammate J.D. Martinez did it with the Diamondbacks in 2017. He singled instead.
Betts had experienced a small adjustment period to his new digs. The 27-year-old didn’t record an extra-base hit until his fifth game this season and didn’t homer until his eighth. He also missed a few games earlier this month with a finger injury.
Now, he leads his team in homers (7), hits (23), extra-base hits (13), RBIs (15) and OPS (1.074), and he has hit safely in 13 of the last 14 games in which he registered an at-bat.
Only two other players—Hall of Fame first baseman Johnny Mize and Sammy Sosa—have had six three-home run games. Betts achieved the feat before his 28th birthday. Sosa didn't do it until he was 33; Mize not until he was 37.
This was the night Dodgers fans were waiting for when their team traded for the superstar this winter. If only they were there to see it in person.
• Yu Darvish no-hit the Brewers through 6 1/3 innings in Chicago’s 4-2 victory over Milwaukee, allowing only two walks and a Justin Smoak solo shot in his seven innings of work. He now boasts a 1.88 ERA over four starts with 27 strikeouts in 24 innings, and the 13-3 Cubs are off to their best start since 1907.
• The Rays battered Boston by a score of 17-8 on Thursday to clinch a four-game sweep and set a few records in the process. Tampa scored a franchise-record 42 runs in the series while becoming the first visiting team ever to sweep the Red Sox at Fenway Park while scoring at least eight runs in every game. Just to jog your memory, Fenway hosted its first game in 1912. The series also marked the first time the Red Sox were swept at home in a four-game set since the Angels brought out the brooms nearly six years ago to the day.
• Two left fielders made superb catches Thursday. Mets’ Jeff McNeil smashed into the wall to rob Asdrúbal Cabrera of extra bases and prevent a couple of Nationals from scoring in the first inning. After the play, the Flying Squirrel had to be carted off the field with a leg injury. Fortunately, an X-ray on McNeil’s knee reportedly came back negative, and his effort was not in vain as New York defeated Washington 8-2.
Shogo Akiyama’s web gem came in a losing effort for Cincinnati against the lowly Pirates, but that doesn’t diminish his accomplishment. In fact, perhaps it should enhance it. Who’s willing to risk their body in a blowout against the worst team in the league? A guy who won six Gold Gloves in Japan, that’s who.
• We had our second drone delay of the season. If this keeps happening, do you think MLB will consider relaxing its Draconian blackout rules so people will just stay at home and watch the game instead of trying to record it from the air? We can only hope against hope.