The Red Sox right fielder had already homered in the first and third innings off Kevin Gausman and in the seventh off Dylan Bundy. Betts was trying for a four-homer night and to make Tolliver his third victim of the evening.
Only 16 players in major league history have hit four home runs in one game.
Betts was chasing a record and could have joined Rocky Colavito (June 10, 1959) and Josh Hamilton (May 8, 2012) as the only players to hit four homers in one game against the Orioles. Hamilton was the last player to hit four homers.
Was Tolliver thinking about what was on the line there?
“I don’t think your thought process can ever be, ‘I can’t give up a home run to this guy,’ ” Tolliver said this afternoon. “I think your process just has to be you have to execute good quality pitches down in the zone, especially with a guy that is as hot as he is right now. So whatever Wheaty (catcher Matt Wieters) calls back there, you know you have to locate a quality pitch. You know that if you execute and do your job, you will get a good result. I don’t think you think about giving up a home run. That is the wrong way to think.”
Tolliver got Betts to ground out to second on a 2-1 pitch. But he still had a 3-for-5 night with three homers and five RBIs as Boston beat the Orioles 6-2.
“I knew he had three home runs and I knew he would be the first guy I was facing in the ninth,” Tolliver said. “But at the same time, that all goes away whenever Wheaty throws a finger and sets up a location. You still have to hit the target, no matter who is there. All these guys are big leaguers and they can all do damage. Some are certainly hotter than others at times. But, yeah, I definitely knew what was going on.”
Tolliver had some history with Betts from their minor league days.
“At Frederick, I faced him and also when he was with Portland (in the Double-A Eastern League). He’s just a good hitter, man,” he said. “For a guy that size, he has some serious pop, and has such good hands and good bat speed.”
Tolliver is 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA since joining the Orioles after pitching a 1-2-3 inning last night. In four games, he has worked four innings, allowing four hits and four runs (three earned) with two walks and five strikeouts.
He has shown a solid fastball, changeup and breaking ball. He prefers not to label that third pitch as either a slider or a curveball. It may be more of a hybrid between the two.
“I just call it a breaking ball,” he said. “I don’t want to get caught up with my mentality thinking this is the action I want on this ball, whether it be 12 to 6 or more of that sweeping slider action. I don’t want to call it a curve or a slider. Just call it a breaking ball and want to throw something that has some depth to it. That is all I’m looking to do.”