DETROIT — Mookie Betts appears to have found something.
The Red Sox outfielder declined to be specific when asked about his swing late Saturday night. Betts is content to let the numbers do the talking, and his exit velocities as of late have been rather loud indeed.
Ten balls rocketed off his bat at 100 mph or more over the course of three games, a streak starting with Thursday’s 8-7 victory at Toronto. The limp routine flies to right field that dotted parts of the first half have been replaced by sharp liners up the middle and to the pull side. Betts is beginning to resemble the hitter who bashed his way to Most Valuable Player honors last season.
“Just a lot of work,” Betts said. “A lot of work behind the scenes that people don’t know about. I’m definitely working hard to get to where I want to be.”
Betts was in search of a third three-hit game in the series against the Tigers on Sunday afternoon. His 76 runs scored marked the third time in his career he’s reached that total prior to the All-Star break. Only Ted Williams, Bobby Bonds, Rickey Henderson and Todd Helton stand alongside Betts in baseball history.
“We’ve been saying all along it’s just a matter of making adjustments,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “Sometimes it takes longer than we want to, but as long as he stays within the zone he’ll be fine.”
Betts led off Saturday’s 10-6 win over Detroit with a triple off the base of the wall in center. It was a sizzling drive struck at 107.3 mph that hit the base of the 420-foot marker. Betts added a double to deep left and a sharp single through the left side to complete his night.
“I’m just consistent with the same swing,” Betts said. “That’s the main thing I’m doing right now.”
Boston comes out of the All-Star break facing a World Series rematch next weekend.
The Dodgers visit Fenway Park for a three-game series beginning on Friday night. Los Angeles lost both games in the Back Bay last October, falling into a 2-0 hole on its way to a 4-1 series defeat.
“We know that they’re coming and I know they’re playing great,” Cora said. “We saw what happened in October. We’re going to have a team on the other side that’s going to be hungry — hungry to kick our ass. So we’d better be ready for that.”
The Dodgers entered Sunday as baseball’s lone 60-win team and boasted a 14½-game lead on the Rockies in the NL West. Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale and David Price will serve as the starting pitchers for the Red Sox. It was Price who worked into the eighth inning while closing out Los Angeles in Game 5.
Sunday marked Boston’s 48th road game of the season.
The Red Sox will play the majority of their contests at home during the second half, and that could actually prove problematic. Boston entered 13-2 in its last 15 contests away and 28-19 overall. The Red Sox are just 20-22 at home, a place where they went a sizzling 57-24 last season.
“Like I’ve always said, there are charter planes, five-star hotels and great spreads,” Cora said. “If you have to rest in the clubhouse, now you’ve got sleeping rooms. It’s better conditions than in the ‘80s and ‘90s.”
Mauricio Dubon earned his first call to the big leagues on Sunday.
The Brewers summoned the 24-year-old infielder from Triple-A San Antonio, the latest reminder of Boston’s disastrous trade for Tyler Thornburg. Dubon was one of three minor leaguers sent to Milwaukee for the right-handed reliever in December 2016, with Travis Shaw serving as the centerpiece of a four-man package.
Thornburg (right hip impingement) is about to finish his 30-day rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket and has pitched to a 12.66 earned-run average.