Even as the empty at-bats piled up, Dustin Pedroia never got bogged down by the numbers.
He was 0 for his last 16 coming into the Red Sox’ 8-2 win over the Seattle Mariners Tuesday night at Fenway Park and 3 for his last 39 since the All-Star break.
He still went about every at-bat the same way, spoiling pitcher’s pitches, dragging them out as many pitches as possible, hitting the ball hard, and accepting the stretch of tough luck he was being dealt.
When Mariners shortstop Brad Miller booted Pedroia’s ground ball in the first inning, Pedroia didn’t necessarily see it as luck slowly shifting his way.
It was just an error.
When he wrung nine pitches out of Mariners starter Joe Saunders in the second inning before finally jacking a full-count fastball over the Monster, he didn’t look at it like a watershed moment.
It was just his seventh home run.
A 2-for-4, three-RBI night didn’t necessarily bust him out of a slump, but it was a nice reward after grinding out so many fruitless at-bats.
“Just keep plugging away,” he said. “You go through streaks where you don’t feel well or you hit the ball at people. So you’ve just got to keep going.”
No set of numbers were more telling than Pedroia’s batting average on balls in play before the break (.348) and after (.081).
“He’s been crushing the ball right at people,” said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “So I’m glad he was able to get a homer.”
Having been through a similar stretch before, Saltalamacchia knew the feeling. He also knew that luck was temporary.
“Pedey’s such a professional that as a teammate, you know it’s going to happen,” Saltalamacchia said. “For him, it’s probably a little frustrating, but it’s nothing he’s not done before. I know personally, two years ago, I was hitting the ball well right at people. But, you know, that’s a better feeling than being kind of lost up there, and he’s never lost.”
Pedroia never changed his approach. That the homer came in a nine-pitch at-bat was patented Pedroia. The 4.09 pitches he sees per plate appearance is 18th in baseball. It was the fifth time in his career that he stretched an at-bat nine pitches and ended it by going deep.
“Just try to be consistent and play every day,” Pedroia said. “You go through 30 or 40 at-bats where you don’t feel well. I wasn’t feeling that well and when I did hit the ball hard, I just hit it right to people. So, it happens.”