Middlebrooks pinch-hit homer a bright spot in loss

Middlebrooks pinch-hit homer a bright spot in loss
August 8, 2012, 4:45 am
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BOSTON If there was a silver lining to be scraped from the Red Sox 6-3 loss to the Rangers at Fenway Park Tuesday night, it was Will Middlebrooks pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning, accounting for all the Sox runs.

With two outs, Ryan Kalish on first after reaching on an error, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia on second after a single to right, Middlebrooks pinch hit for Nick Punto.

On the first pitch, an 85-mph slider, Middlebrooks launched a laser into the first row of Monster seats in left field, slicing the Sox deficit to one run, 4-3.

But the satisfaction was not immediate. Initially, it appeared a fan reached over to pull the ball in. The umpires convened on the field, deciding to review the play. After several minutes seeming to take longer than most home run reviews the umpires emerged from the visitors dugout (which allows access to the video review equipment) with the decision.

The home run stands.

It also ended the night for Rangers right-hander Ryan Dempster.

Middlebrooks had no doubt his blast would survive the review.

Oh, I knew, he said.

It was Middlebrooks 14th home run of the season, his first as a pinch-hitter, and the Sox fourth of the season from a pinch-hitter.

When youre not starting, about the sixth inning you start getting ready, he said. Go down in the cage, take some swings, get loose, because you never know.

Middlebrooks now has 51 RBI this season, putting him into elite company. Since 1918, Ted Williams is the only other Sox batter to hit at least 14 home runs and 51 RBI in his first 72 major league games. Williams had 14 homers and 74 RBI. Walt Dropo, Norm Zachin, and Fred Lynn all reached those numbers, but took more than one season to do so.

It was Middlebrooks first career plate appearance against Dempster. He was not concerned about seeing pitches from the Rangers right-hander.

Im pretty aggressive anyways, Middlebrooks said. Thats just my overall approach anyways every at-bat. So, if I can get a pitch up in the zone early, Ill take it.

But that was all the Sox could take from the Rangers in this game.

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