The frustration coming to a head after Omar Infante made a diving stop on a sure single in the eighth inning Monday night, Ryan Sweeney returned to the Red Sox dugout and promptly punched a door.
It earned him an injured knuckle on his left pinky. He was unable to throw the ball after, and was replaced by Cody Ross in the ninth.
“I just came down, walked down the stairs, and kind of punched the door a little bit, which I’ve done before, but maybe not to this extent,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney said he planned to get X-rays Tuesday, and he could not tell whether the finger was broken.
“I don’t know, I’ve never broken my hand before, so I don’t know what that feels like,” Sweeney said. “I know it hurts a little bit right now.”
Sweeney finished the game 0 for 4 with one strikeout. As the trade deadline approaches, any injury — let alone a disabled list stint — could have implications for his market value.
“I feel like i just let the team down if it’s bad,” a dejected Sweeney said. “I feel terrible right now. Obviously, when you hit something, you just have so much adrenaline going and you don’t know what happened. Afterwards, it just hurt.”
It is expected that Sweeney will land on the DL Tuesday. Ryan Kalish would be a candidate to replace him on the roster.
It was a disappointing cap on an otherwise solid win for the Sox, their third straight since taking two of three from the Yankees in the Bronx. They have built a three-game win streak for the first time since mid-June, aided in no small part by another ace-like performance from starter Clay Buchholz.
Despite allowing a leadoff homer to Austin Jackson, Buchholz, who improved to 9-3 with the win, was magnificent. He at one point retired 12 straight, striking out four and allowing five hits and two earned runs over eight innings, and is 5-1 with a 2.44 ERA over his past nine starts since May 27.
“I feel good,” Buchholz said. “It’s just having a little bit of confidence. Going out there and throwing well just builds confidence and adds to what you already had. It definitely feels good and there’s always something you can work on to change and get better at and I think that’s going to be every start, there’s going to be something that you could’ve done better.
“Everything feels in synch right now and that’s the working part of it. You’ve got four days now to keep yourself where you’re at.”
With Tuesday’s trade deadline looming, the Sox are hitting a stride, and could make a statement Tuesday night against Justin Verlander.
As far as Monday, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford each led off an inning by drawing a walk on a lengthy at-bat, fouling off plenty of Max Scherzer pitches before taking the free pass.
In the first, Ellsbury led off with a walk, and Crawford tripled to deep center. Dustin Pedroia hit an RBI groundout to short that put the Sox back on top following Jackson’s solo shot. In the sixth, Pedroia hit his ninth homer of the season to break a 2-2 tie. Of those nine homers, four have either broken a tie or erased a deficit, and all but one have come with Boston either behind or tied.
Even Kelly Shoppach got in on the fun, hitting a triple to deep center in the seventh and eventually scoring on an Ellsbury single to right. Shoppach is tied for the team lead in three-baggers. Crawford, Pedroia, Sweeney, and Shoppach each have two.
And Will Middlebrooks, after striking out in his three at bats, provided the cushion in the eighth. The rookie crushed a Phil Coke pitch off the light pole atop the Monster. His 13 homers are the most by a Sox rookie since 1987, and Middlebrooks is hitting .407 over his past 11 games.
“They worked away from me all day,” Middlebrooks said. Scherzer made some really good pitches too, and the pitches he left over the plate, I was fouling them off. Little off it, but I tried to stay focused in my last at-bat and get a good hit.
“You’re going to swing at bad pitches. These guys are good. You’ve just got to get past it. They made some good pitches today, and when they left a couple up, I was fouling them off. Just one of those days.”
Ryan Sweeney expected to be out eight weeks.
— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) July 31, 2012