Red-hot Pedroia puts on a show
Hits, hustles his way to big night
The burnt-red stains covering Dustin Pedroia’s white pants were fitting. The Red Sox’ 2-0 win over the Dodgers last night at Fenway Park was dirty, and after two headfirst trips into third base, so was their second baseman.
Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 10 games with three hits in four at-bats, but his most important play had nothing to do with his bat.
With one out in the first inning, and David Ortiz at the plate, Pedroia took off for second base. Russell Martin’s throw bounced well short of the base before skipping past Jamey Carroll into center field. The shift Los Angeles employed for Ortiz meant that third baseman Casey Blake was positioned behind second base, and as soon as the ball got past Carroll, Pedroia jumped to his feet, sprinted toward third, and dove into the bag.
“You’re always thinking that when David’s up there, they always play the shift,’’ Pedroia said. “When the opportunity presents it, you’ve got to go get over there with less than two outs.’’
Said Sox manager Terry Francona, “All good base runners always know where the defense is. If you’re just a hair late, it’s not going to work. But his instincts are so good. When he took off [for third], I thought he thought the ball went into left-center field. I thought he had one too many Red Bulls. That’s great base running and we needed it.’’
Pedroia was also quick to blame energy drinks for his base-running exuberance. It didn’t matter where the ball landed in the outfield. He was going.
“I was gonna go anyway,’’ Pedroia said. “Just because — Red Bulls.’’
The slide into third certainly looked caffeine-induced, and when Kevin Youkilis hit a slow roller that bounced off third base after an intentional walk to Ortiz, Pedroia had another chance to hit the dirt as he slid across home plate. The run was all Boston needed. Pedroia said that it was important for his team to scrape out a win in a low-scoring contest.
“It’s great,’’ Pedroia said. “We only needed a couple. Our pitching was dominant.’’
Pedroia’s second headfirst leap into third came in the eighth. With nobody on, Pedroia ripped a ball into right-center. Without hesitation, he sprinted around second base and headed for third before launching himself at the bag.
The “laser show’’ might be too limited a title for Pedroia’s recent hitting display, for he also hit a rocket into right field for a single in the third. Pedroia is hitting .500 (20 for 40) in his 10-game streak with 12 runs, four doubles, and a home run. He has had at least two hits in eight of those contests. The streak is Pedroia’s longest since a 16-game run last September.
With the conclusion of their 8-1 homestand, the Sox now head west to face the big-name pitching of a couple of other NL West teams. A trip to Colorado means a matchup against 13-game winner Ubaldo Jimenez and NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum will be waiting for Pedroia and the Sox in San Francisco. Pedroia said that he’s looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s gonna be fun,’’ he said. “We only get a chance to see those guys on TV.’’