ARLINGTON, Texas — Mike Aviles has a .283 on-base percentage, painfully low for an everyday player. But the last thing Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine wants is for his shortstop to go to the plate looking to draw a walk.
“I don’t necessarily want Mike to walk. If he’s going up there trying to walk and getting behind in the count, I’m not sure that’s exactly where he needs to be,” Valentine said.
“He needs to stay aggressive and be aggressive and drive the ball when they make a mistake or he gets his pitch. He’s good at that. A lot of people make a good living doing that.”
Aviles showed a combination of patience and aggressiveness in the ninth inning tonight. In a 1-1 game, he came to the plate with two outs and two runners on. Joe Nathan had walked Daniel Nava and pinch hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia with two outs.
Aviles worked the count full, fouled off a tough slider then singled in the winning run, the ball just getting over a leaping Elvis Andrus at shortstop.
“I was just hoping that it got enough to get over. I didn’t really want to play extra innings,” Aviles said. “Inside in my head I was just blowing, hoping that the ball would get over his head.”
Aviles had seen plenty of Nathan when both were in the American League Central, Aviles with the Royals and Nathan with the Twins.
“I know what he has in his repertoire but he’s still nasty, said Aviles, who is 3 for 5 against Nathan. “Sometimes it pays to be a little bit lucky, I guess.”
Aviles was being modest. He is 28 of 82 (.341) with runners in scoring position and his 51 RBIs are the most among American League shortstops. That compensates for his low on-base percentage.
“Lot of big hits,” Valentine said.
Big win for the Sox, who were riding a four-game losing streak. It was only the second time since Rangers Ballpark opened in 1992 that they won a game scoring two or fewer runs.
Credit Clay Buchholz for that. He allowed one run over seven innings against the highest scoring team in the game. He gave up four hits, walked three and struck out one.
Buchholz has a 2.47 earned run average and a 0.99 WHIP in his last eight starts. After a ragged start of the season, the righthander has become the most reliable starter on the staff.
“It’s all about a comfort level,” Buchholz said. “Whenever you’re out there and you’re comfortable throwing pitches to both sides of the plate and letting them work rather than having to go out there and force it to work. Results will happen that way. It the process of getting to that point.”
• Vicente Padilla had an interesting eighth inning. He got three outs, but also committed an error and hit Adrian Beltre in the back of the helmet with a fastball.
Valentine called Ron Washington after the game and was told Beltre appeared to be fine.
Padilla was released by the Rangers in 2009 solely because of his willingness to hit batters. So many Rangers were getting drilled in retaliation that Padilla was told to knock it off. When he refused, he was released.
But this appeared unintentional. There were two outs and an 0-2 count on Beltre. Also, Beltre was not with the Rangers in 2007 and has no personal beef with Padilla.
Padilla would not comment after the game.
• Beltre is hitting .316 with an .870 OPS and 18 home runs. He made his latest terrific play in the field in the fifth inning, bare-handing a bunt attempt by Pedro Ciriaco and gunning him out.
You can only wonder what might have been different for the Red Sox had they spent their money to keep Beltre and Victor Martinez after the 2010 season. The Rangers love Beltre and, really, what’s not to love?
• As for the error by Padilla, that’s an interesting story. Adrian Gonzalez has noticed that whenever Elvis Andrus goes back to first base after a pickoff throw, he waits for the first baseman to throw the ball back then spends a little time smoothing the dirt.
“He keeps his head down, so I went out to the mound and told Vicente to make a pickoff throw then when he got the ball back, peek over and check and then make a quick throw,” Gonzalez said. “I think we got could have picked him off.”
After the first pickoff, Padilla made the second one right away. Andrus was still on the bag and Gonzalez was not expecting the throw. The ball got away and Andrus went to third.
After he hit Beltre, Padilla got Michael Young to ground out and end the inning.
• Buchholz has three putouts on 3-1 plays in the second inning. He is the first pitcher in the majors to do that this season.
• Carl Crawford was taken out of the game in the sixth inning because Valentine did not want him to try and unleash a throw in a tight game and completely tear that ligament in his left elbow. If Crawford’s elbow is that bad, what is the point of his playing? Get the surgery and be ready for 2013. If he tears the ligament in September, he may not be ready for Opening Day.
• Will Middlebrooks, the pride of Texarkana, Texas, is 4 for 8 in the two games here. Met his parents after the game and, as you might expect, they’re very nice people. Buchholz’s folks were here, too.
• Dustin Pedroia was told that Patriots receiver Wes Welker is getting a hair transplant and would be doing commercials for the procedure. But the balding second baseman has no plans to go down that path.
“I’m plenty good looking,” he said. “And I have a hot wife.”
And with that, a good night. Thanks to all for reading.