Bates was 3-for-5 on Sunday with a two-run homer. He finished the series 7-for-15 with three extra base hits, five runs, and four RBIs.
“Man, he’s a pro. He’s doing a great job at division,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “It’s fun when you have expectations of a superstar and he delivers.”
Donning matching blue tracksuits, the Dodgers left Fenway Park 80-49 with wins in 21 of their last 25 games.
Playing against each other like their basketball teammates, Bates and first baseman Freddie Freeman pressured the Red Sox by reaching base 17 times in 30 games and scoring eight runs.
Freeman has 50 double plays with 33 remaining to play, a Dodgers record since their move to Los Angeles. Betts has had 1,328 OPS since Aug. 1 and has already scored 110 points.
“They’re controlling the game,” said Sox manager Alex Cora. “Freddy and Mookie are locked in the base. It’s an instant offense that looks like it’s in two throws.”
Bates does not find this unusual.
“Maybe it’s because my expectations for Freddy are so high,” he said. “I really don’t care. We’re just trying to make something happen. It’s kind of what we do.”
Bates hit a hanging slider off Chris Murphy’s Monster Seats in the sixth inning to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead. Then in the bottom of the inning, he chased a line to right field to take a potential extra base hit off Trevor Storey.
It made sense for Bates to walk the eighth inning with a runner on third and one out. But with Freeman on deck, the Sox had no choice but to pitch him. Bates received a shot from Murphy and then sent a fastball into midfield for one goal. That gave him 93 RBIs – as a leadoff hitter.
Despite all the handshakes and hugs this weekend, Bates was the cold-blooded terminator between the lines.
“Obviously, emotions are there,” he said, before recalling a conversation with the late Kobe Bryant about how best to put your feelings aside in situations like this. “It kind of made it clear to me and I added it to my repertoire.”
Even Roberts, who once stole a base at Fenway Park with the season on the line, marveled at how well Betts has handled his first series in Boston since being traded in February 2020.
“It’s remarkable how he was able to get through it but not be stressful about the people he had to see and his obligations while still staying focused on the job at hand,” said Roberts. “It’s not easy to do. I’m sure he’ll sleep well tonight. I’m sure he’s exhausted, both physically and emotionally.”
Bates was quick to leave the Visitor club after the game to spend more time with some friends before returning to Los Angeles.
His return to Fenway was better than he could have expected.
“I got some closure and I’m glad I got it,” Bates said.
The Dodgers won’t return to Fenway until 2025. And it’s possible the Betts will have another World Series ring or two by then. Maybe another better player.
Clear-eyed Red Sox fans already understood how terribly wrong Bates’ loss had been. After this weekend, how could anyone not?
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. follow him @ Abby’s house.