CLEVELAND — As the Dodgers were beating his team twice Thursday, Cleveland Guardians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti apologized to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and GM Brandon Gomes for the performance of one part of the Guardians’ organization.
The grounds crew.
Twice in the series – Wednesday night and again Thursday afternoon – the grounds crew deployed the tarp well before any rain arrived, stopping play to the consternation of both dugouts.
They couldn’t stop the force of nature at the top of the Dodgers’ lineup, though. Mookie Betts had five hits in the suspended game completed Wednesday and two more in the second game as the Dodgers beat the Guardians, 9-3, Thursday.
With his first visit to Fenway Park since his February 2020 trade to the Dodgers on tap this weekend, Betts is set to remind them of what they’ve been missing.
The five-hit game matched his career-high (set on Aug. 26, 2016, for the Red Sox against the Kansas City Royals) and the two-hit game in Thursday’s regularly scheduled game was his ninth multi-hit game in his past 11.
Betts is on a 24-for-41 tear over those 11 games with seven hits in his past eight at-bats, nine hits in his 11 at-bats in Cleveland and 11 in his past 15.
“He’s locked in. He’s in the zone,” Roberts said. “He’s playing great baseball. It doesn’t matter the score, every at-bat is just a fight and more times than not he’s coming out winning that battle. It’s fun to watch.
“He’s the best player on the planet right now.”
Betts said it’s “probably … a whole lot of things” that have been going right for him lately.
“But the main thing is continuing to hit the ball hard, have good at-bats, swinging at the right pitches. I think those are the things that I really can control,” he said. “Once I hit it, wherever it goes, I have no control over that. Really just trying to focus on the things I can control.
“I honestly didn’t even realize that one was five hits (in the game). I think the rain delays and all that stuff made me forget about yesterday, honestly.”
His five-hit game started with a single in the first inning Wednesday night as the Dodgers bolted to a 3-1 lead. They sat on that overnight thanks to the most overeager grounds crew in the major leagues.
Wednesday’s game was stopped after the second inning when the grounds crew rolled the tarp out despite the fact no rain was falling at the time. Thirty minutes later, the rain finally arrived and the game was eventually suspended until Thursday.
They did it again on Thursday. After the eighth inning of the resumed game with the Dodgers leading 6-1 (thanks in part to a two-run double from Betts), the grounds crew bolted onto the field again, covering it with the tarp. No rain fell for 12 minutes and then only a light drizzle for another 15 minutes before the storm arrived with heavy rain, thunder and lightning.
“You probably wouldn’t want to hear,” Dodgers third baseman Max Muncy said when asked for his reaction to seeing the tarp deployed with just one inning to go.
“Not again. Not again,” Betts said of his reaction.
“When I was 21, it was pretty easy to bounce back. Now that I’m 30, getting hot and cold doesn’t feel great. But it is what it is. I’m still young at heart.”
After a 72-minute delay, play resumed and the game ended 12 minutes later – just about 21 hours after it started Wednesday.
Thursday’s regularly scheduled game started about 30 minutes later under mostly sunny skies.
“Here we go again,” Roberts said of his reaction to Thursday’s stoppage. “It wasn’t a welcome sight.
“Chris came over and he … apologized for the way it was handled. No one wins in that situation. They lost a starter too (because of Wednesday’s suspension). You could see they were kind of hamstrung with their pitching today. …. But I really appreciate Chris coming over and Tito (Guardians manager Terry Francona) reached out too.”
The Guardians broke on top with two runs in the second inning against Ryan Yarbrough, the first time in five outings for the Dodgers that Yarbrough has allowed two runs.
The Dodgers matched that in the third inning with Betts driving in one with a single. Michael Busch gave them the lead in the fourth inning with his first major-league home run.
The Guardians helped the Dodgers break it open with four runs in a fifth inning that featured two errors – and one mental error. With the bases loaded and one out, center fielder Ramon Laureano dropped Jason Heyward’s shallow fly ball. Laureano recovered quickly and threw home for what should have been a forceout. But Guardians catcher Bo Naylor made the catch without touching home plate and tagged Freddie Freeman too late.
James Outman followed with a two-run single and Busch drove in another run with a sacrifice fly.
Prepping for his own return to Boston (and celebrating his birthday), Kiké Hernandez piled on with an RBI double and a solo home run. He had three doubles in the two games.
The forecast in Boston calls for rain all day Friday.