January 23, 2018
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Red Sox promote former Sea Dogs player Betts

By The Sports Xchange, Special to the BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Portland Sea Dogs second baseman Mookie Betts puts his glove down for a ball during batting practice on April 10 at Hadlock Field in Portland. Betts was called up to the Boston Red Sox Saturday for their game in New York against the Yankees.

The Boston Red Sox promoted 21-year-old infielder Mookie Betts from Triple-A Pawtucket before Saturday night’s game against the New York Yankees.

To make room for Betts on the 25-man roster, the club sent pitcher Rubby De La Rosa to Pawtucket.

Betts rose through the Red Sox’s minor-league system in less than two years — quicker than shortstop Xander Bogaerts and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.

Betts batted .355 in 54 games with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs before heading to Pawtucket this year. In 23 games with Pawtucket, he reached base in each contest and batted .290 (9-for-31) with runners in scoring position.

Betts came up as a second baseman since being drafted in the fifth round in 2011, but has played 29 games in the outfield this season.

Veteran outfielder Shane Victorino had a setback in recovering from a back injury, prompting the move to bring up Betts.

Last season, Betts notched a .341 batting average with Single-A Salem.

Betts didn’t play in Saturday night’s game, which the Red Sox won 2-1 when Mike Napoli hit a solo homer in the top of the ninth to snap the 1-1 tie.

New York starter Masahiro Tanaka struck out Napoli twice and was one strike from a third strikeout in the ninth.

The next pitch the right-hander threw to Napoli wound up carrying just far enough into the right field seats for a go-ahead home run that lifted the Red Sox by the Yankees.

“He made a mistake with his fastball,” New York manager Joe Girardi said. “He didn’t get it where he wanted to. He did have a lot of success with the split. It’s not where he’s trying to throw it. He made a mistake with location. So you got to live with it.”

That location was over the outer edge of the plate and the right-handed-hitting Napoli drove it high enough to clear the right field fence for his 10th home run of the season. The 96 mph pitch also came after Tanaka shook off catcher Brian McCann twice after getting consecutive swings and misses to bring the count to 1-2.

“The sign was for a breaking ball, but I actually wanted to go hard outside with my fastball,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “So that’s why I shook him off. The fact is with the pitch, I missed my spot and got it to a spot that was (easy for the batter).”

Napoli said, “He threw a bunch of them (slider and splitters) at me tonight. He got me where he wanted me. I was hoping he was going to hang the split and I was trying to get something up in the zone.

“I’m just looking for something up. I’m just trying to be short (with my swing) in that situation, put the barrel on the ball and put it in play somewhere.”

Napoli’s home run lifted the Red Sox to their third win in nine games against the Yankees this season. It also handed Tanaka consecutive losses for the first time on a night when he pitched his third complete game.

“I was in the dugout,” Boston starter Jon Lester said of Napoli’s home run. “Obviously, (I was) pretty excited. He pitched pretty well all night and Napoli put a good swing on that ball right there. Luckily, we’re in Yankee Stadium and not anywhere else and the ball goes out.”

Before the home run, Tanaka retired 12 of the previous 13 hitters, including designated hitter David Ortiz on a 5-5-3 double play against a defensive shift.

The home run made a winner of Lester (9-7), who allowed an unearned run and five hits in eight innings. Lester took a no-hitter into the sixth and worked out of trouble in the late innings while becoming the first Red Sox to allow no earned runs and five or fewer hits in New York since his five-hitter at old Yankee Stadium on July 5, 2008.

“We needed that outing,” Boston catcher David Ross said. “I’m glad we got him that win. He pitched phenomenally, two good pitchers going at it.”

Lester lost his no-hit bid in the sixth when he allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner, who was then caught stealing second by Ross.

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