ST. LOUIS -- Leave it to Mookie Betts to tie a franchise record for leadoff homers and have it be just the second most impressive thing he did on Tuesday night while helping the Red Sox to a 6-3 victory over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
The most highlight-reel-worthy thing Betts did in this one was an exquisite spin-and-throw in the right-field corner to nail Matt Carpenter trying to stretch his hit into a double in the fifth inning.
The first thing Betts did was play a potentially tough carom perfectly, and then uncork a perfect strike to Xander Bogaerts, who swiped the tag on Carpenter.
"Yeah I practice that every day," Betts said. "For times like that. I think that's one of the first opportunities I've had to do one in a game. I've done it so many times it was kind of second nature."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny had no issue with Carpenter's decision to run on Betts.
"That's a good try. We needed a run," Matheny said. "There are two outs, need a perfect throw, and that's exactly what Betts gave. He gave a perfect throw."
After winning his first Gold Glove Award last season, Betts looked primed to add another one to his trophy case this year.
He hopes to get more chances to pull off the spin-and-fire play.
"I practice trying to get rid of it as fast as possible," Betts said. "So I'll make bad throws in practice trying to get rid of it so fast and eventually I'll get to make good throws. That's one of the better ones I've had so far."
Betts makes his living beating teams in a multitude of ways. The home run was the 10th leadoff smash of his career, tying Jacoby Ellsbury for the franchise record. Of course, Ellsbury was Boston's primary leadoff man for six seasons. Betts is in the early stages of his third full season and has hit in numerous spots in the batting order.
His move back to leadoff on May 6 has helped rejuvenate Boston's lineup. Betts won the American League's Player of the Week last week. In his 40 at-bats since returning to the top of the order, Betts has belted five homers and with 14 RBIs and had a 1.238 OPS.
"I'm just trying to have a good at-bat to start the game and put a good swing on a good pitch," Betts said.
Though others might be impressed that a 24-year-old is on the verge of a team record for leadoff home runs, Betts is typically unfazed.
"Yeah, just trying to get a jolt of energy to start the game," he said. "However it is I get on base, or whatever happens, happens."
As usual, Betts is making things happen for the Red Sox with his bat, arm and glove.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.