BOSTON (CBS) — Mookie Betts continued to pad his MVP-worthy stats on Monday night, blasting yet another homer in Boston’s 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Betts crushed an 0-2 offering from Rays starter Matt Andriese to lead off the second inning on Monday night, breaking up a scoreless tie with his ninth homer for the month of August.
It’s the 30th dinger of the season for Betts, putting him in some select company in Red Sox history. Betts is now just the third member of the Red Sox to hit 30+ home runs in a single season before his 24th birthday, joining Ted Williams (who accomplished the feat in 1939 and 1941) and Tony Conigliaro (1965).
Joining the 30 home run club is not something Betts expected when he started his career, but he’ll gladly take the power surge while he has it (so will the Red Sox). He said after Monday’s win that he will enjoy the career milestone briefly, but his focus is on something much, much bigger.
“It’s pretty cool, hitting 30, but that’s not the reason we play. We want to win a World Series, first and foremost,” Betts told reporters. “I got a text from [Dustin Pedroia] that said ‘Congrats, now turn the page.’ That’s the mindset we have. We’re in a race right now and that’s way more important than career milestones.”
In addition to his solo blast that likely left a dent in one of the advertisements above the Green Monster, Betts also drove in another run with an RBI double in the fifth inning, giving him 27 RBIs for the month of August and 96 on the season. He ranks in the top five in the American League in most offensive categories, and without his bat in the heart of the order, the Red Sox may not be enjoying the race for the playoffs.
Boston fans have been serenading Betts with MVP chants when he digs in at the plate for some time now, and while he appreciates the love from the Fenway faithful, his focus remains on the big picture.
“It’s pretty cool, but there are guys around the league doing more than I am. It’s cool to be a part of that, but what we’re doing, the race we’re in right now, that’s more important,” said Betts.