Napoli light-tower power the difference vs. KC

Napoli light-tower power the difference vs. KC
July 20, 2014, 12:00 am
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BOSTON -- The term "light-tower power" isn't usually meant in the literal sense, but Mike Napoli disproved that notion in the sixth inning against the Royals on Saturday night.

Working his way to a 3-1 count against Kansas City starter Danny Duffy, Napoli was sitting on a fastball and got one that he muscled up -- and up -- over the light bulbs hanging high over the Wall in left.

His solo shot was the difference in Boston's 2-1 win, giving the team six victories in their last seven games.

With six hits in his last 14 at-bats, Napoli -- who has historically run hot and cold -- is perhaps beginning to find a rhythm that has at times escaped him this season. What made his latest home run a particularly good sign for the Red Sox was that it was his first extra-base hit since July 8.

Napoli knows how important it is that he, as a middle-of-the-order bat, produce in a lineup that has often struggled to find runs.

"I'm in the middle of the lineup hitting behind [David Ortiz] so I'm gonna have to produce," he said. "But I'm not going to go out there and try to do too much. I'm going to try to stick to my plan and see the ball, hit the ball."

Though his power has abandoned him at times, Napoli continues to be the team's best player in terms of on-base percentage. Per plate appearance he sees the second most pitches (4.44) in the American League -- behind only Adam Dunn -- which has helped him reach in 21 of his last 22 games, giving him a .436 OBP in that stretch.

He credits that approach with helping him find the pitch that won the Red Sox the game, their eighth consecutive one-run win at home.

"It goes to pitch recognition," Napoli said. "Seeing a lot of pitches. As a hitter, you've gotta know those hitters' counts, those fastball counts where you look to drive something. It's what I do. I see a lot of pitches."

His patience paid dividends Saturday, and if the Red Sox are to make an improbable run at the division he'll need to keep it up.