LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mookie Betts hit three home runs Thursday night — for the sixth time in his career.
Now nobody’s done it more often.
Betts launched half of the season-high six long balls socked by the Los Angeles Dodgers during an 11-2 rout of the San Diego Padres. His sixth three-homer game matched the major league mark shared by Sammy Sosa and Hall of Famer Johnny Mize.
Betts accomplished the feat in 813 career games. Sosa needed 2,364, and Mize did it in 1,884.
“I just think it’s pretty cool, but it’s not as important as the rings,” Betts said.
Triple threat. pic.twitter.com/c6amEhzF0F
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 14, 2020
The four-time All-Star went 4 for 4 with five RBIs and was hit by a pitch in the leadoff spot, where manager Dave Roberts has been reluctant to lock him in.
However, with Corey Seager back in the lineup after injury, Roberts turned to Betts at the top.
“I’ve been doing it my whole life so I think I’m just comfortable there,” Betts said. “It’s just one of those things where you only lead off once, but I enjoy getting things started and creating havoc on the basepaths.”
Betts signed one of the richest contracts in baseball history last month, agreeing to a $365 million, 12-year deal on the eve of opening day, and has mostly batted second in this pandemic-shortened season. The 2018 AL MVP said when he was acquired from Boston in a blockbuster trade last offseason that he thought he’d be hitting leadoff with his new team.
“I’m definitely here to do whatever is best for the team,” said Betts, who talked to Roberts again recently about the leadoff spot. “I think he’s just trying to find a comfort in the lineup in general.”
Roberts knew the kind of special player the Dodgers landed in Betts, although the 5-foot-9 right fielder has surprised him in one way.
“I know he hits homers,” the manager said, “but it’s more power than I expected.”
With a chance to tie the big league record of four home runs in one game, Betts reached on an infield single in the seventh.
When Betts wasn’t chasing down balls in the outfield or rocketing them into the empty stands, he was on the bench talking hitting with his teammates.
“He’s just very unselfish,” Roberts said.
The National League’s top two home run-hitting teams split the four-game series, with the Dodgers outscoring the Padres 17-2 over the last two.