Betts rounding into form, makes history

Outfielder first Sox player with consecutive 20-20 seasons

Betts rounding into form, makes history

BOSTON -- The stretch run is here, and Mookie Betts looks like he's ready to take off. This is great news for the Red Sox, because the right fielder is their most dynamic player.

Power was the top tool for Betts on Tuesday, as he smashed two towering home runs and drove in six to lead the Red Sox to an 11-1 victory over the Athletics.

After slumping for more than a month, Betts has gotten hot over the last week, going 9-for-25. Six of the nine hits during that run have been for extra bases.

"Yeah, I think it's the most consistent I've been [this season]," said Betts. "Got a little way to go. Just want to keep the same focus."

Must C: Betts' monster night

The combination of power and speed that Betts possesses hasn't been seen often in Red Sox history, and that was made evident with the right fielder's moonshot over the Green Monster in the bottom of the fourth inning on Monday night.

The home run was the 20th of the season for the 24-year-old Betts, making him the first player in Red Sox history to produce consecutive seasons of 20 homers and 20 stolen bases.

In fact, the only other player to have two 20-20 seasons in a career for Boston was Jackie Jensen, who did it in 1954 and '59.

"Yeah, any time you can get a milestone like that you should always be appreciative, and I am," said Betts. "I think it just shows the type of player that I can be and the player that I strive to be."

With 18 games to go, the Red Sox are 82-62 and lead the Yankees by four games in the American League East. With Betts starting to round back into form, Boston could be tough to catch in the coming days and weeks.

After belting a two-run triple in the second, Betts unloaded for his first homer against Athletics lefty Seth Manaea, hitting it a projected distance of 434 feet. That is the longest batted ball for Betts since Statcast™ started in 2015.

Betts has 24 stolen bases this season. In a breakout 2016 in which he finished second to Mike Trout in the AL's Most Valuable Player Award voting, Betts had 31 homers and 26 stolen bases.

The right-handed hitter with the quick hands that whip through the zone didn't wait long to notch his 21st homer, as he belted another two-run shot in the sixth inning. That one was projected at 409 feet by Statcast™.

The Red Sox are 15-3 this season in games in which Betts goes deep.

"Well, I think tonight was maybe a snapshot of what we've seen the last couple of years from him more consistently," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "To me, he's just not rushing out to get pitches. He's letting the ball travel a little deeper in the strike zone. He looks loose in the batter's box. The bat speed has always been there. I just think he's putting himself in a better spot to square some pitches up."

Perhaps Betts is starting to feel more relaxed at the plate again?

"This is the time where things are a little more magnified due to the playoff race," Betts said. "If I am more relaxed, that's good. Like I said, I really don't know."

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.