There was a time when Will Middlebrooks slugged three home runs, went 4 for 5, and helped the Red Sox cruise to a 13-0 thrashing of the Toronto Blue Jays.
It happened in just the sixth game of the season, but it seems like ages ago. Middlebrooks slumped during the end of June, was demoted to Pawtucket, and didn’t return until Aug. 10.
But upon his return, the 24-year-old has 10 hits in 23 at bats (.435) and a soaring 1.040 OPS.
Although the Red Sox lost to the Yankees, 9-6, Sunday night, Middlebrooks continued on his tear, going 2 for 3 with an opposite field home run, a double, and a walk.
In the fifth inning, he put a charge into a 93 mile-per-hour fastball from CC Sabathia and sent it ricocheting into the Boston bullpen to give his team a 5-3 lead.
“My first at-bat, he threw me all off-speed so I figured he’d try to tag me a little bit differently the second time around, thinking I’d go out there and look for his off-speed stuff,” Middlebrooks said. “He came fastball in first pitch and I shot off the plate, so I figured he’d throw another heater.”
After the game, manager John Farrell had plenty of praise for Middlebrooks, who seems recharged after his long stay in Pawtucket.
“He came back to us more squared up in his stance, and it’s allowed him to keep the bat through the strike zone with more plate coverage,” Farrell said. “He’s more, I think, relaxed, he looks at ease in the box. Much different from when he got sent out. He’s come back feeling pretty good about himself.”
Although the game got away from the Red Sox, who have lost seven of their last 10 games and three straight series for the second time this season, Middlebrooks seemed relaxed heading into the upcoming six-game West Coast trip.
“There’s no concern here,” Middlebrooks said. “Nobody is worried, nobody is panicking. We’re a really good team. We’re going to be good throughout the rest of the season.”