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At an opportune time

Hermida gives foes fits in starts

Jeremy Hermida, who homered and drove in three last night, is making the Sox happy they picked him up in the offseason. Jeremy Hermida, who homered and drove in three last night, is making the Sox happy they picked him up in the offseason. (Bill Greene/Globe Staff)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / May 10, 2010

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The Red Sox started the season looking for opportunities to get Jeremy Hermida playing time. Their scouting reports and projections suggested the fourth outfielder would be a productive hitter if given a chance.

In an unfortunate way, that became easy for manager Terry Francona when Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury were lost to injuries.

Hermida has helped fill in as well as expected, driving in three more runs last night as the Sox gained a much-needed 9-3 victory over the Yankees, avoiding a three-game sweep. Hermida was 2 for 4 with his fourth home run.

“This has been enjoyable,’’ said Hermida, who was obtained from the Marlins in November. “It’ll be even more enjoyable once we start winning a few more games.’’

His RBI single with two outs in the third inning capped a five-run burst that gave the Sox a 6-0 edge. Hermida has 15 two-out RBIs, matching Nick Swisher of the Yankees for most in the American League, and 19 RBIs overall.

“It’s the luck of the draw sometimes, you end up in the right situations,’’ Hermida said. “Fortunately, I’ve been able to get a couple to fall in in big situations.’’

Hermida knocked Yankees starter A.J. Burnett out of the game in the fifth inning, pulling a fastball to right field for a two-run homer and a 9-2 lead.

Hermida would have had four RBIs were it not for a call by the official scorer in the second.

With J.D. Drew on second and two outs, Hermida hit a ball over the head of Marcus Thames. The left fielder raced back toward the wall and stuck up his glove to make the catch. The ball hit his glove and bounded away.

Hermida said he hoped the call would be changed upon appeal to the league office.

“We’ll see what happens on that one,’’ he said. “That’s a tough call for me. It’s a tough play.’’

Hermida has started 16 of the 26 games the Sox have played since Ellsbury fractured four ribs in Kansas City April 11. He has hit only .226 in those games but has driven in 16 runs.

“This is what we talked about in spring training,’’ Francona said. “You don’t know where the at-bats will come from. We said if he got a lot of at-bats, somebody probably got hurt, which is what happened. He’s taken the opportunity and really helped us out.’’

Though Hermida is hitting only .243 for the season, he’s at .292 with runners in scoring position.

“I’ve been a victim of it in the past and a lot of guys are; you get a little juiced up in situations like that,’’ Hermida said. “I just try to relax and take it at-bat by at-bat and not change anything. It’s making sure you get your pitch and not expand your [strike] zone in certain situations. It’s real easy to expand the zone and try and do too much.’’

Said Francona: “He swings at strikes and he’s got the power potential. He’s been an everyday player for a lot of his career. So it’s not different for him now that he’s playing a lot. He’s had some big hits for us.’’

Cameron will start an injury rehab assignment today and Ellsbury could follow by the end of the week. Sometime soon, Hermida could be back in a reserve role. But he has given the Sox even more motivation to get him in games.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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