Red Sox sparked by Aviles
His bat productive in win over Twins
MINNEAPOLIS - The Red Sox showed their faith in Mike Aviles to play shortstop when they traded Marco Scutaro to the Rockies in January.
They reaffirmed that decision in March by naming Aviles the starter and sending defensively gifted Jose Iglesias back to the minor leagues.
Another booster shot of belief came earlier this month when Aviles was picked to replace an injured Jacoby Ellsbury as the leadoff hitter.
Now comes the reward. Aviles helped the Red Sox to an 11-2 victory against the Minnesota Twins Tuesday night, collecting two doubles, a home run, and two RBIs. He also scored three runs and had a sacrifice bunt.
Once a utility player with the lowly Royals, Aviles has become an important piece for the Sox. Since Ellsbury went down with a shoulder injury, Aviles is hitting .395 with a .425 OBP over nine games.
“It feels good to have somebody have some confidence in me,’’ Aviles said. “I know the type of player I am. I’m not saying I’m great; I’m not saying that I’m terrible. I’m in the middle. I know what I can and can’t do.’’
Aviles doubled and scored in the first inning, belted a long solo home run in the fourth, and had an RBI double in the fifth.
“We lose an All-Star center fielder and leadoff hitter and Mike has picked up the slack,’’ Dustin Pedroia said. “He’s been unbelievable. He’s aggressive. I like the damage that he does, the extra base hits. And he can run, too. He does a lot of things that help us.’’
Aviles led off for 15 games with the Royals last season with poor results, as he hit .203. He blamed it on taking too many pitches in an attempt to become a textbook leadoff hitter.
When Ellsbury was injured, manager Bobby Valentine told Aviles to stay aggressive and not to change his style.
“I go up there trying to be aggressive until I recognize the pitch is going to be a ball. Then I’ll just let it go,’’ Aviles said. “If I go up there trying to take balls, then I find myself behind more often. I try and stay aggressive in the zone and try and get on base as much as possible.’’
Said Valentine: “Michael’s been a godsend with Jacoby going down and all the questions surrounding our squad, to fill that void as seamlessly as he has with outstanding at-bats, production, and playing great defense . . . He’s a good player.’’
That’s two straight victories to start their seven-game road trip. The Sox finished with 18 hits, six of them doubles, in support of Josh Beckett (2-2), who pitched six solid innings.
David Ortiz was 2 for 4 with a walk, a home run, and three RBIs. He is hitting .444. Adrian Gonzalez had three hits and also drove in two.
The Red Sox have scored 17 runs on 30 hits, 12 of them for extra bases, in the first two games of the series.
“You’ve got to take off at some point,’’ Ortiz said.
The Sox knocked Twins starter Nick Blackburn out of the game after three innings.
Aviles started the game with a double and scored on a single by Ryan Sweeney.
Blackburn (0-2) got an out when Pedroia grounded into a fielder’s choice. But singles by Gonzalez, Ortiz, and Kevin Youkilis along with a groundout by Cody Ross scored two more runs.
Gonzalez drew a walk to start the third and scored on a long home run to right field by Ortiz.
Aviles lined a home run a few feet inside the foul pole in left field against Matt Maloney in the fourth, his third of the season. Sweeney doubled and scored on a single by Gonzalez.
The Sox added three more runs in the fifth. Marlon Byrd led off with a single and scored on a double by Aviles to the gap in left. Pedroia followed with a two-out RBI double off the video board in right center. A double by Gonzalez scored Pedroia and made it 10-1.
Beckett allowed two runs on five hits in six innings. That after throwing 37 pitches in an eventful first inning.
With one out and a runner on first, Beckett walked Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham, and Justin Morneau to force in a run. He was ahead of Mauer 1 and 2, Willingham 0 and 2, and Morneau 0 and 2 before losing them.
Beckett thought he had Willingham and Morneau struck out and didn’t get calls.
Beckett did strike out Ryan Doumit on three pitches with the bases loaded before getting Danny Valencia to ground to third.
As Beckett left the field, he started gesturing and yelling at umpire Adrian Johnson, who said something in return. Pedroia ushered back Beckett back to the dugout.
“He got a little frustrated, possibly, but it really turned up his competitive fluids,’’ said Valentine. “He wasn’t going to be denied the victory. This was a game he really wanted.’’
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.