Carp comes prepared and comes up big

Carp comes prepared and comes up big
August 29, 2013, 12:15 am
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BOSTON -- Mike Carp's day at Fenway Park began with an at-bat against Clay Buchholz in a simulated bullpen session. He struck out swinging to end Buchholz' tuneup for his rehab start on Friday night.

Carp's night ended with a two-out, pinch-hit, game-winning bloop RBI single in the bottom of the eighth.

The at-bat against Buchholz was something that Carp said he took advantage of, knowing that he wasn't in the starting lineup against the Baltimore Orioles. The left-handed utilityman also said he took advantage of watching some video in the clubhouse during the game.

Carp went down and watched a handful of his previous at-bats against Orioles reliever Tommy Hunter, and, as he's been all season in the role, he was ready to pinch hit, if called upon.

"From the sixth-inning on, I'm ready for any right-hander that comes out of the pen," said Carp after a 4-3 win over the Orioles. "And Jonny Gomes is the same way, with any left-hander. It just happened to work out that tonight was my opportunity to go hopefully get a big hit, and I came up with it, and we came out with the ballgame."

"Both he and Jonny [Gomes] in that role, one, they stay prepared, and two, they have compact swings," said Red Sox manager John Farrell afterwards. "There's not much maintenance to them. They're able to repeat it, come up and hit 97-98 mile an hour fastballs is not an easy thing to do. And he got enough wood on it in this case."

With two outs and runners on first and second in the bottom of the eighth, and the score tied at 3, right-handed hitting Xander Bogaerts was called back into the dugout, and the lefty Carp jumped out to pinch hit against Hunter.

"There's a calmness about [Bogaerts] that he's shown in a short period of time," said Farrell. "But, Hunter's been dominant against right-handed hitting. And I felt like that was the spot for Carp."

The move worked, as Carp just got a piece of an 0-and-1, 97-mph fastball and sent it the other way. It just barely dropped in over the extended arm of the diving Manny Machado at third base, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia scored to give the Red Sox their first lead of the game. And they held on in the ninth for the win.

"A timely one," said Farrell. "A bloop hit that finds some grass just over the outstretched arm of Machado at third.

"As we've seen Mike, in a pinch-hit role throughout the course of the year, he stays prepared, and fortunately, we had a little luck on our side on that one."

Carp said he knew it had a chance to fall when it left the bat, and recognized that bloopers aren't always the worst thing in the world.

"I just got enough of it to dunk it over Machado's head," said Carp. "It's what we play for, to try and drive in the game-winning run.

"Sometimes it's all about placement. I didn't get a lot of it, but it's a funny game. Because you can hit the ball hard, guys were hitting the ball hard all night right at people . . . It just takes one little squibber, one little jam shot to seal the deal."

So far, Carp has embraced his utility role with the Red Sox. And if his game-winning, pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth doesn't back that up, then his words after the game certainly do.

"I couldn't be happier about the situation I'm in now," said Carp. "It's tough, sometimes, not getting the at-bats you want, but to be a part of this team and this clubhouse, and the way we go about our business every day, it's a dream team, a lot of fun. Just a dream season altogether."