BOSTON The Will Middlebrooks express just keeps steaming along. The rookie went 3-for-4, with a run scored and two RBI, falling a triple shy of the cycle in Saturdays 8-4 win over the Braves.
His performance raised his average from .319 to .331.
He had a good game tonight and like all good hitters hes seeing the ball well right now. manager Bobby Valentine said. Hes taking the low breaking ball and spitting out most of the time or if he swings at it the first time, he takes it the next time he sees it. Hes getting the ball in the zone and hitting it hard. Good game tonight.
That has not been a novelty of late for Middlebrooks.
His solo home run, leading off the third, was his third in the last four games and ninth of the season. He has at least one RBI, with a total of 11, in six of his last seven games and has an extra-base hit in his of his last five games, going 10-for-14 (.714) with three doubles, three home runs, and nine RBI in that stretch.
I feel really comfortable seeing it early and seeing it long, said Middlebrooks, who wasnt aware he had just missed hitting for the cycle until informed of it after the game.
Just getting good pitches to hit and not missing them.
Middlebrooks was called up May 2, to take the spot of Kevin Youkilis, who was placed on the disabled list that day with a lower back strain. Since May 23, Middlebrooks has reached base safely in 20 of 21 games, batting .385 (25-for-65) with four walks, getting hit by pitches twice.
He is the first American League player with 33 RBI in his first 40 games since Californias Wally Joyner with 38 in 1986. It is the most RBI to start a Red Sox career since Walt Dropos 34 in his first 40 games from 1949-1950.
Middlebrooks nine home runs are the most by a Boston batter in his first 40 major league games in the last 25 years.
While each of those stats are impressive, just as impressive is the fact that hes been able to do this while being caught, if tangentially, in the controversy over third base playing time and the speculation over Youkilis being traded.
"I dont care, I really dont, he said. Im here to play baseball. Im not here to be an analyst. Ill let you the media do your job and Ill do mine.
Asked if he had envisioned performing this well in the big leagues, he replied:
"I wanted to get here that was my main goal. Im happy with it. Really didnt have any expectations."