Right doesn't make might
Drew's position isn't one of power
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- J.D. Drew's homerless streak has reached 46 games, three more than the 43 games the Red Sox right fielder went without a home run for the Dodgers last season, when he speculated at the time that his surgically repaired shoulder had not regained sufficient strength to drive the ball over the fence.
This season, no injuries have been offered as an explanation for Drew's loss of power. Drew, who has not hit a home run in 154 at-bats since June 20 in Atlanta, has 6 home runs and 45 RBIs. That puts him on track to finish the season with 8 home runs and 59 RBIs. Drew has hit two home runs at Fenway Park, the last on April 22.
In the last 60 years, only two Red Sox players who played at least 70 percent of their games in right field and had sufficient plate appearances to qualify for the batting title have hit fewer than 10 home runs in a season: Jimmy Piersall and Al Zarilla. Piersall hit 3 home runs in 1953 and 8 in 1954. Zarilla hit 9 in both 1949 and 1950. A 22-year-old Dwight Evans hit 10 in 1974.
Since 1930, only four Sox right fielders have hit fewer than 10 home runs and driven in fewer than 60 runs: Piersall (52 RBIs in 1953, 38 in 1954), Pete Fox (2 HRs, 44 RBIs in 1943), Lou Finney (4 and 53 in 1941), and Ben Chapman (7 and 57 in 1937). Drew began the night with a slugging percentage of .396. Only Piersall (.395 in '54, .354 in 1953) and Fox (.366) among Sox right fielders have hit the trifecta of fewer than 10 home runs, fewer than 60 RBIs, and less than a .400 slugging percentage.
When the Sox signed Drew to a five-year, $70 million contract last winter, he was cited as the answer to the team's deficiency in production out of the No. 5 hole. The Sox began last night last in the AL in home runs (8) and RBIs (60) out of the 5-hole, though Mike Lowell had a homer and three RBIs from that spot against the Devil Rays.
Drew was tied for 32d among major league right fielders in home runs, and last night was passed by new Washington National Wily Mo Peña, who hit his seventh home run of the season.
Drew ranked 22d in RBIs among right fielders, 21st in slugging percentage (.396), and eighth in on-base percentage (.364).
Gagné threw his fastball 52.2 percent of the time with the Rangers, a number that has risen to 61.6 percent with the Sox. The biggest difference has been with two strikes: With the Rangers, Gagné threw his fastball 48.7 percent of the time with two strikes, 72.7 percent with the Sox. He threw his changeup 41.1 percent of the time with two strikes with Texas, only 22.7 percent of the time with the Sox.
After a fastball, Gagné has been more apt to repeat the pitch than he was with the Rangers: 52.2 percent with Texas, 65.3 percent with the Sox. After a fastball strike, the percentage increase of another fastball has been even more pronounced: 41.5 percent with Texas, 63.8 percent with the Sox.
Opponents batted .115 against Gagné's fastball in Texas; they're hitting it at a .522 clip with the Sox.
In his one-inning stint Sunday against the Angels, Inside Edge noted, Gagné allowed two hits, both on fastballs up in the strike zone. He had three strikeouts, two on changeups, one on a fastball. He threw back-to-back fastballs six times; he followed the fastball with the changeup four times. He threw four pitches with two strikes: two fastballs, two changeups. And he did not throw a curveball or slider.
"There's been a learning curve, not only in how he's attacked hitters but the pitcher-catcher relationship," pitching coach John Farrell said, "and I know that has been a centerpiece of discussion between Eric, Jason [Varitek], Tito [Francona], myself, and Theo [ Epstein].
"What will lend to a higher number of off-speed pitches is throwing them for strikes more frequently. I think there's been some tendency to maybe overthrow on occasion, which has caused some sacrifice of command.
"I think we all firmly believe in the guy. We fully support him as a pitcher and a person. We fully believe before this year is out he's going to be the pitcher that he's been throughout his career."
Nick Cafardo of the Globe staff contributed to this report.