Napoli's historic slam saves the day

Napoli's historic slam saves the day
September 7, 2013, 1:00 am
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(AP Photo)

NEW YORK -- Mike Napoli keeps getting on base, having reached in each of his last eight plate appearances.    

And when others are on base, he's driving them home.    

Napoli hit his third grand slam of this season -- and second against the Yankees -- to cap a five-run seventh inning, sending the Red Sox on to 12-8 comeback rout of New York.    

Napoli has 29 RBI with the bases loaded this season, the most of any player in baseball and the most for a Red Sox player since Vic Wertz also had 29 in 1960.    

Napoli was facing lefty reliever Boone Logan in the seventh with the bases full and drove an outside pitch to right that seemed to keep carrying.   

"I barrelled it,'' recalled Napoli. "At first, yeah (I thought it was going out) and then I saw Ichiro (Suzuki, the right fielder) timing his jump and that kind of made me nervous. But I just got enough. The pitch was away from me.''    

Indeed, the ball struck the top of the right field fence and hopped over, tying the game at 8-8.    

The short porch in right field is a perfect backdrop for Napoli, who frequently powers the ball the other way.    

"It's pretty shallow to right field,'' said Napoli, "and I've been able to drive balls to right field throughout my career, so it's definitely comfortable hitting here, knowing that I can hit something in the air that way and it will go out.    

Dating back to Thursday's win, Napoli has reached base in eight straight plate appearances, including three singles, a double, homer, and three walks.    

"It's a good feeling,'' said Napoli of his current run. "You're going up there feeling comfortable, definitely seeing the ball a lot better. I'm just trying to keep everything the same every time I go up there. I've been having good BPs, feeling good with my early work and hitting in the cage.    

"I'm just trying to keep everything the same and keep it going.''    

Told that he has the most grand slams in a season for a Red Sox player since Babe Ruth, Napoli seemed humbled.    

"That's pretty cool,'' he said. "Guys seem to be on base for me everytime I'm up. I've had a lot of opportunities with the bases loaded this year and I'm just trying to drive the ball somewhere and good things have been happening.''    

But that didn't stop Napoli from getting a little greedy. In the ninth, the Sox had two runners on base, Napoli on deck and David Ortiz was a ball away from drawing a walk that would have loaded the bases.    

Don't think that Napoli wasn't relishing the chance to hit a second grand slam in as many at-bats.    

"Yeah, I wanted to get up there on more time, for sure,'' said Napoli with a smile.    

Instead, Ortiz lashed a sharp grounder to first that Lyle Overbay grabbed and turned into the final out of the inning.    

It was about the only thing that didn't go right for Napoli the entire night.