The Red Sox resilience struck again after being swept in yesterday’s double header against the Kansas City Royals. The Oakland Athletics got down early thanks to a Mike Napoli grand salami, and the bullpen was able to (somehow) conjure just enough to ward off the A’s counter punch.
Here are the four bases:
First Base: Mike Napoli offense has turned eyes, especially on his fourth career grand slam tonight, along with his 25 RBI in 19 games, which is best in baseball. But what about his defense? Once thought as a disadvantage has turned into a pretty valuable asset. On the surface, Napoli has not yet made an error, and made some great plays, including one against Coco Crisp to end the eighth inning. What lies underneath is also worth noting; a 0.9 ultimate zone rating at first base. The combination that Napoli now has at his disposal will earn every penny beyond the $5 million base salary this year.
Second Base: What Will Middlebrooks reminded everybody tonight was not to worry about his current slump. Yes, he is striking out over 30 percent of the time, but his batting average on balls in play was just .186 coming into the game, well below his career average of .307. If he can change his grounders (44 percent) into line drives (15 percent), his average, and value, should rise.
Third Base: The interesting case of Felix Doubront now has a different kind of chapter. This was definitely the best start he has had all season, going 6 2/3 innings and giving up only three earned runs. Although, he still had to leave in the seventh because of a career-high 113 pitches. He had a pretty good first pitch strike percentage (61 percent), but still walked five batters.
Home Plate: The Josh Reddick-Andrew Bailey deal got its first real opportunity to take shape tonight. Reddick, who now has a .297 average against his former club, went 2-for-4 tonight despite facing Doubront for most of the game. Meanwhile Bailey got his first save against his former club, which he had 72 saves with. Oakland has gotten the better end of the deal so far with Bailey missing most of last year, but this could be a trade that works out great for both teams.
Beyond the Diamond… John Lackey made his first rehab appearance with AA Portland tonight, going 3 2/3 and giving up only three hits and two walks. He was able to throw 67 pitches (45 strikes), and collect 5 strikeouts… Joel Hanrahan threw 30 pitches off a mound today and said he felt good. The tentative plan is for him to do another session on Wednesday and then possibly commence a rehab assignment on Friday… Franklin Morales had lingering discomfort in his left pectoral muscle which will delay his next outing. Morales has still only made one appearance with the Greenville Drive, throwing 3 scoreless innings last Wednesday… For those of you curious about the 6:35 start times – 35 minutes ahead of the normal start time – Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe did a little research and found out the reason why. The unofficial word has to do with saving sunlight for the kids; making the game earlier would promote parents to bring their kids to the games.
(Photo Courtesy of Winslow Townson / Getty Images)