KANSAS CITY — Will Middlebrooks had two home runs, a double and five RBIs for the Red Sox in tonight's 11-5 victory against Kansas City.
That's impressive, although not entirely remarkable. In Red Sox history alone, 50 rookies have had games with at least two home runs. Heck, Fred Lynn and Trot Nixon had three-homer games as rookies.
But what set Middlebrooks apart was how he did it.
The first home run was down the line in right field at Kauffman Stadium, the ball sailing just inside the foul pole.
His double in the seventh inning was to center field and hit hard enough to reach the fence.
Then in the eighth inning Middlebrooks pulled a ball down the line in left field that was still rising when it clanged off the foul pole.
Dustin Pedroia (2 for 3 with a home run, a double and three walks) talked to hitting coach Dave Magadan during the game and both agreed they never seen anybody use the whole field with power like that before.
“He swung the bat great,” Pedroia said. “Those are professional bats and at that age, it’s huge for our team. Very impressive.”
Middlebrooks has at least one extra-base hit in four straight games to start his career, one of four players to accomplish that feat since 1918. Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes did it earlier this season. Enos Slaughter (1938) and Coco Laboy (1969) are the others,
Middlebrooks is 8 for 21 (.381) with three doubles, three home runs and nine RBIs in four games since being called up last Wednesday when Kevin Youkilis went on the disabled list.
Youkilis was hitting .219 with four extra-base hits and nine RBIs in 64 at-bats before he went out with a back injury. If Middlebrooks keeps this up, Youkilis will get all the time he needs — and maybe some he doesn’t want — before coming back.
“Just trying to carry over what I started in Pawtucket earlier this year,” said Middlebrooks, who hit .333 with nine homers and 27 RBIs in 24 games at Triple A before his promotion. “I’m happy with it. Individual results, I wasn’t really looking for that initially. I wanted to come here and do whatever I could to help the team win games.”
Another youngster, 24-year Felix Doubront, did impressive work, too. A day after the Red Sox played 17 innings and worked over their bullpen, he pitched into the seventh inning to improve to 2-1.
It wasn’t the cleanest game as Doubront allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits and three walks. But his 111 pitches were a career high and desperately needed.
“Felix was excellent, gave us exactly what we needed,” Valentine said.
So the five game losing streak is history and the Sox have now won seven of eight on the road.
A few notes:
• One of Ryan Sweeney's cousins caught Pedroia's home run. Sweeney said so in the clubhouse then I ran into the cousins in the elevator and they backed up the story and had the ball.
• Kelly Shoppach had never hit a triple in the majors before and swore to reporters he didn't think he had ever had one. Turns out he had three in the minors. Players never know their own stats.
• Vicente Padilla picked up the last eight outs for his first save. As Valentine said, that means the bullpen will be mostly normal on Tuesday.
• David Ortiz has a bracelet made up of little skulls. How many people in the world can wear a skull bracelet and not look like idiots? David, Keith Richards, maybe a few more. That's really it.
Catch you tomorrow. Thanks to everybody for reading.