Dodgers’ Mookie Betts makes first return to Boston

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Familiar faces will return to Boston when the Los Angeles Dodgers begin a three-game series against the Red Sox on Friday night.

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The Dodgers last visited Boston in 2019 when a July weekend series marked the only other meeting between the teams since the 2018 World Series.

Highlighting the Dodgers‘ returnees is star outfielder Mookie Betts, the 2018 American League MVP who has never played in Boston as a visitor. He was traded to Los Angeles along with pitcher David Price in February 2020. The Red Sox got back three players, two are still regulars for them, outfielder Alex Verdugo and catcher Connor Wong.

“This will be my first time going back since 2019. I’m really nervous,” Betts said on his Bleacher Report podcast this week. “It’s more just that I haven’t been back in so long. It’s where I grew up, and I don’t know what to expect. … I think it will be fun.”

Betts enters the weekend scorching hot after going 5-for-5 in the completion of a suspended game in Cleveland on Thursday and then 2-for-3 in the series finale that followed. The Dodgers won 6-1 and 9-3, respectively.

Right-hander Ryan Brasier and utility man Enrique Hernandez are two other former Red Sox players who are on the Dodgers‘ active roster. Hernandez was just acquired from Boston on July 25.

“I’m sure Fenway is going to show up for (Betts),” Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale said.

The Dodgers will give the ball to 36-year-old Lance Lynn (9-9, 5.60 ERA) on Friday. Lynn is 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA in four starts (25 innings) since joining the Dodgers from the Chicago White Sox in a July 28 trade.

The right-hander, who has allowed a total of one earned run over his past three outings, scattered four hits across seven shutout innings in a no-decision on Aug. 17 against the Milwaukee Brewers. The eventual 1-0 win capped the Dodgers‘ 11-game winning streak.

“I think this is kind of what we imagined at the beginning of the season with what our staff is and what it has been since I’ve been here,” Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes said. “Lance fills up hitters during the game. He’s been doing it for a long time.”

The Red Sox return home after dominating in a 17-1 win at Houston on Thursday, splitting a four-game series while earning their fifth victory in seven games.

The recent run has lifted Boston within 3 1/2 games of a playoff spot.

“A lot of people thought this season was over three days ago,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said, “but that’s not the case.”

Wilyer Abreu, Wong and Verdugo each had four hits, including a home run. For Abreu, it was the first long ball of his major league career. He made his debut on Tuesday after socking 22 homers in 86 games for Triple-A Worcester this season.

“There’s a reason he’s here,” Cora said. “(Worcester manager) Chad Tracy was very happy with the way he had been playing. He’s a good runner. He’s a good defender. He’s a good hitter.”

Boston right-hander Kutter Crawford (6-6, 3.66 ERA) is slated to make his first career appearance against the Dodgers.

Crawford pitched 5 1/3 no-hit innings before allowing a home run to the Yankees’ Aaron Judge in his latest start, on Saturday at New York. He wound up yielding just the one run and one hit while walking two and fanning five in six innings en route to an 8-1 win.

—Field Level Media

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