Mookie Betts (Trading Card DB)

May 31, 2016: Mookie Betts’ 3-homer game leads Red Sox over Orioles

This article was written by Bill Nowlin

Mookie Betts (Trading Card DB)The 2016 season was something of a breakout for Mookie Betts. It was his second full season in the major leagues, playing outfield for the Boston Red Sox. He’d hit for the same .291 batting average in both 2014 and 2015, but in 2016 the 23-year-old Betts improved to .318 and drove in a career-high (through 2023) 113 runs. His 359 total bases, which led both the American and National Leagues, also remain a career high. He was named an All-Star for the first time.1

Betts homered 31 times in 2016, second on the ballclub only to David Ortiz, who hit 38 in the final season of his Hall of Fame career. On the last day of May and the first day of June, Betts booked five of those home runs. It was the 32nd time in American or National League history that a player had hit five home runs in a two-game span.2

Betts’ homer spree began on a Tuesday night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Red Sox entered with a two-game lead in the AL East Division over the Baltimore Orioles.

Starting for Buck Showalter’s Orioles was right-hander Kevin Gausman, in his fourth year with the team. He was 0-2 (3.24), the Orioles having scored only two runs combined in his two losses.

Lefty Eduardo Rodríguez – who had been 10-6 for John Farrell and the Red Sox the year before, his rookie year – was making his first start of the 2016 season.3

Betts and the Red Sox wasted no time in asserting themselves. Batting leadoff, Betts took Gausman’s first pitch for a ball, then swung and launched Gausman’s second pitch over the 410-foot mark in left-center and into the “sod farm.” It was Betts’ 10th homer of the season.

On a 1-and-1 count, the next hitter, Dustin Pedroia, banged one several rows deep into the stands in straightaway left. Pedroia’s seventh home run of 2016 made it 2-0, Red Sox. For the 19th time in 52 games, Boston had scored more than one run in the first inning.

Rodríguez gave up a leadoff single to Adam Jones, who took second on a passed ball but got no farther.

In the top of the second inning, center fielder Chris Young, Boston’s seventh-place hitter, worked a one-out walk on five pitches, then catcher Christian Vázquez drew a two-out walk on five pitches. That brought up Betts once more.

On a count of 2-and-0, Gausman got one over the plate – and Betts sent it out, a well-struck three-run homer just inside the foul pole in left field and maybe three to four rows deep into the seats. It took a big bounce out and right into the glove of left fielder Nolan Reimold, but there was no doubt from the moment it left the bat that Betts had another home run. The Red Sox took a 5-0 lead. Betts had become the first leadoff batter in Red Sox history to homer in the first two innings of a game.

Over the next 4⅓ innings, Gausman allowed only two hits and no more runs.

The Orioles got on the board in the bottom of the third. Right fielder Joey Rickard reached on a single to third base. After two outs, Reimold doubled to center and Rickard scored from first. Manny Machado hit a long drive to left-center, but Young timed his leap perfectly and hauled it in, pulling it back from just over the wall. “Saved me two runs there,” said Rodríguez after the game.4

With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Baltimore cut the deficit to 5-2. Third baseman Paul Janish doubled to center. Jones followed with a single grounded between short and third, and Janish scored.

In the fourth inning, Betts had lined out to second base for the third out. He came up again in the seventh, facing a new pitcher, Dylan Bundy, taking over from Gausman. Bundy had first struck out Vázquez, on six pitches. On a 2-and-1 count, Betts hit one the other way. It went to straightaway right field – an opposite-field home run – about a half-dozen rows into the seats.

Betts had hit one to center, one to left, and now one to right.5 The Red Sox led 6-2. And Betts had accounted for five of those six runs with the team’s first three-homer game since one by Will Middlebrooks in 2013.

After Betts’ homer, Bundy gave up singles to Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts but escaped any further damage. Bogaerts was 1-for-5, extending his hitting streak to 24 games.6

Robbie Ross relieved Rodríguez in the bottom of the seventh.7 He struck out two Orioles and got the third one to fly out – to Betts, who came running in and made a headfirst dive to catch the ball in very shallow right, in what otherwise would have been “no man’s land.” The Baltimore Sun called it “a truly spectacular diving, sliding catch … that will be showing up on highlight videos for years to come.”8

Betts came up one more time, leading off the top of the ninth inning. A new reliever – Ashur Tolliver – was on the mound. Betts hit a routine groundball straight to the second baseman, who threw to first for the out.9 Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel closed out Boston’s 6-2 win with scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth.

In the very next game – Wednesday night, June 1, also in Baltimore – Betts was at it again. On the second pitch of the game, Baltimore’s Mike Wright Jr. saw Boston’s leadoff batter homer again, just barely out – but out nonetheless, just over the wall in right-center field.

The Orioles responded by scoring four times in the bottom of the first off starter Joe Kelly, but the Red Sox weren’t ready to give up yet. Travis Shaw led off the second inning with a double down the line in right. One out later, Young homered to left and the deficit was down to 4-3.

After the second out, it was Betts in the batter’s box once more. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, he hit another home run against Wright – this time to left field. His 14th home run of the year tied the game, 4-4, and gave him a record-tying five homers in two games. It also made him the first player in major-league history to homer in both the first and second innings in back-to-back games.10 He had hit five home runs over the course of seven at-bats.

It turned out to be a slugfest, won 13-9 by Baltimore. The Orioles had 14 hits – including 10 singles – and nine walks against four Boston pitchers. For the Red Sox, Ortiz connected for the 518th home run of his career in the third, and Young added another homer in the eighth.

Betts had three opportunities to become the first-ever major leaguer with six home runs in two games. In the third he walked with runners on first and second against Vance Worley. He grounded out against Worley in the sixth and walked against Darren O’Day in the eighth. Finally, he was in the on-deck circle when Ryan Hanigan grounded out against Zach Britton for the final out in Baltimore’s win.

Betts was the third player in Red Sox history with five home runs in two games. In 1976 Carl Yastrzemski homered off Dave Roberts, Steve Grilli, and John Hiller on May 19 at Tiger Stadium. Yastrzemski hit two more the following day at Yankee Stadium, off Tippy Martinez and Ron Guidry. On July 21, 2002, Nomar Garciaparra hit two off Jeff Weaver at Yankee Stadium. After an offday, Garciaparra had a three-homer game on July 23 – his 29th birthday – at Fenway Park against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.11



This article was fact-checked by Bill Marston and copy-edited by Len Levin.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted,,, and highlights of the game on Thanks to Tom Reinsfelder for providing access to the Baltimore Sun.

See for highlights of the June 1 game.



1 Through 2023, Betts had been selected an All-Star seven times: four times in the AL and three times in the NL after a 2020 trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

2 “Consecutive Home Run Records: Major League Baseball Record for Home Runs in Consecutive Games,”, accessed April 24, 2024,

3 Rodríguez had been on the disabled list since having wrenched his knee in a late February workout.

44] Young was playing in the game because Jackie Bradley Jr. was out for paternity leave. Dan Shaughnessy, “Rodriguez Adds to Winning Formula,” Boston Globe, June 1, 2016: D4.

5 Betts was reportedly the first leadoff batter in Red Sox history to hit three homers in one game. Nick Cafardo, “A Career Highlight – and First of Many,” Boston Globe, June 1, 2016: D4.

6 Bogaerts hit safely in the June 1 and June 2 games, but then the streak was snapped.

7 By year’s end Rodríguez was 3-7 (4.71), but he progressed each of the next three seasons, with his 13-5 record helping get Boston to the World Series in 2018. He was 19-6 in 2019 with a majors-leading 34 starts.

8 Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli, “Mookie Betts is just better,” Baltimore Sun, June 1, 2016: D1.

9 After the game, Betts reflected on inconsistency at the plate he had shown the weeks before the game, and also talked about the possibility of a fourth home run in the ninth, saying, “I was more concerned with getting a fourth hit than a home run. … If we had a bigger lead, I might have approached it differently.” Cafardo.

10 The Boston Globe reported the same: “Betts is the first player in major-league history to homer in the first two innings of consecutive games.” Peter Abraham, “Betts Hits 2 More, but Sox Lose,” Boston Globe, June 2, 2016: D2.

11 Garciaparra hit the first off Tanyon Sturtze and the next two off Brandon Backe, driving in eight of Boston’s 22 runs in that game.

Additional Stats

Boston Red Sox 6
Baltimore Orioles 2

Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Baltimore, MD


Box Score + PBP:

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