Saturday, May 18, 2024

Mookie Betts homers twice as Dodgers handle Royals

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mookie Betts is getting his prep work in before the Home Run Derby.

One day after being voted into the National League’s starting lineup for the All-Star Game and confirming that he would accept an invitation to compete in the Derby, Betts led off the game with a home run and added a second longball in his next at-bat. He drove in two more runs with a single and a double, finishing a triple shy of hitting for the cycle as the Dodgers beat the Kansas City Royals, 9-3, Friday night.

The game marked the halfway point of this year’s schedule. The Dodgers’ 46-35 record is their fewest wins at the midpoint (in a full season) since 2018. They are in second place in the NL West at the halfway mark for the fifth time in the past nine full seasons.

At 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, Betts insists he doesn’t really belong in the Home Run Derby. But he had 824 feet worth of homers in his first two at-bats Friday. He welcomed Royals right-hander Alex Marsh to the big leagues by sending the fifth pitch of Marsh’s career over the Dodgers’ bullpen in left field.

It was Betts’ ninth leadoff home run of the season and the 45th of his career. That ties him with Joc Pederson (2019) for the most leadoff home runs in a season by a Dodger.

Two innings later, Betts turned on an 0-and-1 changeup and bounced it high off the left-field foul pole for his 22nd home run of the season and the 26th multi-homer game of his career.

Betts made it three RBIs in three at-bats when his two-out single drove in Jason Heyward in the fourth inning. Heyward had doubled in David Peralta, one of four times Heyward reached base Friday (two singles, a walk and the RBI double).

Dodgers starter Bobby Miller was the grizzled veteran in Friday’s pitching matchup with Marsh (who made his MLB debut). Miller’s seventh big-league start fell somewhere between the extremes of his first four (two runs allowed in 23 innings) and his previous two (13 runs in 9⅔).

Miller filled up the box score with five hits allowed, a walk, a hit batter and a wild pitch. Three stolen bases didn’t help either. Each led to a run for the Royals against Miller.

But the Dodgers kept scoring with and without Betts’ help.

In the fifth inning, Will Smith’s drive down the right-field foul line landed on chalk. Initially ruled a foul ball, the play was overturned on replay and Smith was awarded a triple. J.D. Martinez drove him in with a sacrifice fly. In the sixth, an error led to an unearned run.

And in the eighth, the Dodgers put it away with three more runs on a triple-double – consecutive doubles by Miguel Rojas, Betts and Freddie Freeman – and a sacrifice fly. Betts had a shot to fill out a cycle but drew a walk in the ninth (capping his 4-for-4 night by reaching base for a sixth time).

The Dodgers’ bullpen closed things out with 3⅓ scoreless innings, including one from Daniel Hudson who was activated from the injured list before the game and made his return after tearing the ACL in his left knee just over a year ago.

More to come on this story.

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