'He's going to be fine," Alex Cora says of Mookie Betts

Evan Drellich
NBC Sports Boston

BOSTON - The presumptive Most Valuable Player in the American League will need to do a bit more in this year's Championship Series for the Sox to have a shot at unseating the defending World Series winners.

Mookie Betts has a .238/.333/.333 line in 48 plate appearances lifetime in 11 games in the postseason, spanning the Division Series from 2016-18. He has four doubles, no homers, six walks and nine strikeouts.

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Against the Yankees in the four-game ALDS that wrapped Tuesday, Betts went 3-for-16 with one double, four Ks and three free passes.

"Game 3 was outstanding, Game 4 I think he got caught up in trying to do a lot, which is understandable." manager Alex Cora said Thursday at Fenway Park. "It's good that we won and he didn't take charge offensively like he's been doing the whole season, so that's a plus for our team. And I know he's prepared. He's in here in the scouting report, and how bad he was last year against Houston from his manager. 

"He'll be ready. He had a great series against them here [when the Astros visited Boston in September]. He only chased one bad pitch out of the zone against [Josh] James on a 3-2 slider. I think overall, that was his best series of the season as far as like, staying with the game plan and staying in the zone. He's looking forward to it. I know that I am. And he's going to be fine."

Betts did not swing at the first pitch in either the 2016 or 2017 ALDS. He swung at three of 17 against the Yankees. His percentage of pitches taken has remained steady all three years in the ALDS, right around 60. He had five swings and misses this year on 26 swings, the same as last year on 33 swings, and two more than in 2016 on 18 swings.

Back in April and at other points during his time with the Sox, Cora has talked about how passive Betts had been at the plate in the past. 

"With his ability, he's going to put the ball in play later on in the at-bat," manager Alex Cora said Wednesday. "But you can see he's ready to hit. It's not like he's taking pitches just to take. That's what we call bad takes. He was taking too many pitches right down the middle [in the past], and he can do damage with that. 

"People watch games and you scout hitters and you see video, and from personal experience, last year, he would take the first pitch - or he would take a strike - his first two at-bats, and then he'll ambush you the third at-bat, a predetermined swing the third at-bat. I mentioned it to him. He was like, ‘Well, yeah, I was doing that.' I think with what I learned from him last year being on the opposite side, and talking to him and the way other teams see him, then he started thinking, ‘Well, I can change my approach.' But the good thing with him is his ability to make contact is unreal. It's unreal. And he can do damage when he makes contact."

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