ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Mookie Betts is leaping into the World Series, carrying to the Los Angeles Dodgers with his glove rather than with his bat.
The star right fielder made his third terrific catch in three days, this time robbing Freddie Freeman of a home run and helping the Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves 4-3 Sunday night in Game 7 of the NL Championship Series.
Los Angeles trailed 3-2 in the fifth inning, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts already had brought on his third pitcher when the Braves made a bid to widen their lead.
Freeman drove a cutter deep to right field, and Betts sprinted 64 feet to the wall and jumped, just to the side of a credit-card advertisement. His glove above the 8-foot top, he snatched the ball as it was headed over.
Another web gem, perhaps even more impressive than his robberies of Dansby Swanson in Game 5 with a shoestring grab and of Marcell Ozuna in Game 6 against the wall a little bit more toward center.
“The one yesterday was probably the most important. I think that we stopped their momentum for sure,” Betts said. “But I think that today is probably my favorite because it was actually a home run.”
His catch on Freeman kept the Dodgers close, and Los Angeles rallied behind home runs by Kiké Hernández in the sixth off A.J. Minter and Cody Bellinger in the seventh against Chris Martin.
Now it’s onto the World Series against Tampa Bay starting Tuesday night, a chance for Betts to get a second ring to add to the jewelry earned with Boston two years ago.
And it’s another opportunity for the Dodgers to win their first title since 1988 following losses to Houston in 2017 and the Red Sox in 2018. Betts batted .217 with three RBIs in the Series, hitting a solo homer in Game 5 off Clayton Kershaw.
“We would have beat the Red Sox if we would have had Mookie Betts,” Roberts said.
Acquired from Boston in a trade before the season, Betts hit .269 (7 for 26) with one RBI against the Braves, part of a frustrating postseason that has included no homers and five RBIs in 45 at-bats despite .a .311 average.
“I feel like I did something good for the team, even though I hadn’t done too much with the bat,” Betts said before Sunday’s game.
A four-time All-Star, former AL MVP and four-time Gold Glover, he said Sunday afternoon that catches against the wall as superior to the shoe strings.
“Going back is probably more difficult,” he said, “because just all the timing that you have to do and then jumping — staying healthy, too, because I’ve been around that wall and I’ve gotten hurt a couple times.”
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