Mookie Betts shows home run derby skills as Dodgers rout Royals

Mookie Betts shows home run derby skills as Dodgers rout Royals

Dave Roberts continued to downplay Mookie Betts’ participation in the home run derby Friday afternoon, the Dodgers manager saying he was “excited” about the diminutive leadoff man’s decision to compete against some of baseball’s best sluggers at the All-Star Game, but adding, “I don’t think he’s gonna fare too well.”

Betts, the 5-foot-9, 170-pound outfielder/infielder, sent a not-to-subtle message to his skipper in Friday night’s 9-3 victory over the lowly Kansas City Royals in Kauffman Stadium: don’t underestimate me.

Betts crushed solo home runs in his first two at-bats for the 26th multi-homer game of his career, and though he failed to hit three homers in a game for the seventh time in his career, he added an RBI single in the fourth inning and an RBI double in the eighth to pace an 11-hit attack.

Rookie right-hander Bobby Miller threw 5 2/3 solid innings, giving up three runs and five hits, striking out four and walking one, to earn the win, rebounding from two brutal starts during which he was torched for 13 earned runs and 17 hits in 9 2/3 innings against the San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros.

Jason Heyward added three hits and two RBI to help the Dodgers win for the seventh time in nine games and go 12-12 in June, avoiding their first losing month since going 11-14 in April 2018.

The Dodgers did not arrive at their team hotel in Kansas City until about 5 a.m. local time after enduring a nearly two-hour weather delay and a late-night win in Colorado on Thursday and flying to Kansas City after the game.

But Betts provided a Five-Hour-Energy-like jolt to his team when he opened the game with the 45th leadoff homer of his career and ninth of the season, driving a 3-and-1 fastball from Royals right-hander Alec Marsh, who was making his major league debut, 422 feet to left field for a 1-0 lead.

Betts, who had two doubles, a walk and scored three runs in Thursday night’s 14-run, 18-hit shellacking of the Rockies, followed Miguel Rojas in the top of the third with a 402-foot line drive that stayed just inside the left-field foul pole for his team-leading 22nd homer and a 2-0 lead.

Kansas City trimmed the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the third when Drew Waters singled to left-center, stole second, took third on Nicky Lopez’s grounder to second and scored on Bobby Witt Jr.’s grounder to first.

Marsh did well to keep Betts in the park in the fourth inning, but the Dodgers second baseman still drove in a run with a two-out RBI single to center, capping a two-run rally that began with David Peralta’s walk and Jason Heyward’s RBI double to right-center.

Miller yielded another run in the bottom of the fourth when Maikel Garcia singled with one out, stole second and scored on former Huntington Beach High standout Nick Pratto’s RBI double to right-center that pulled the Royals to within 4-2.

But the Dodgers got that run back in the top of the fifth when Will Smith hit a fly ball down the right-field line that kicked up chalk for a triple — the ball was originally ruled foul, then overturned by instant replay — and scored on J.D. Martinez’s sacrifice fly to the wall in center field for a 5-2 lead.

The Royals parlayed a stolen base into a run for a third time in the sixth inning when Garcia singled with two outs, stole second, Pratto was hit by a pitch and Freddy Fermin rolled an RBI single to cut the deficit to 5-3. Dodgers left-hander Caleb Ferguson got pinch-hitter Edward Olivares to ground into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.

The Dodgers answered again in the seventh, taking advantage of Royals third baseman Garcia’s error on Martinez’s grounder and singles by Peralta and Heyward (RBI) to push the lead to 6-3.

They blew the game open with a three-run eighth, Rojas, Betts and Freddie Freeman contributing doubles and Peralta adding a sacrifice fly for a 9-3 lead.

Betts, who along with Sammy Sosa and Johnny Mize are the only players in baseball history with six three-homer games, had one more shot to hit a third homer with two outs in the top of the ninth, but he drew a walk.