Napoli rebounds with 3-hit night against Blue Jays

Napoli rebounds with 3-hit night against Blue Jays
May 1, 2013, 11:45 pm
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TORONTO -- Mike Napoli struck out three times in the final game of the Red Sox homestand Sunday, then began the road trip by fanning four more times Tuesday.

The start of a slump? The beginning of a hitting funk from which he might not recover anytime soon?

Not hardly.

On Wednesday night, Napoli swung the bat with the same vigor, the same abandon as he had the previous two games. In the first two games, he mostly missed. On Wednesday, he connected -- in a big way.

Napoli absolutely cranked two homers to center -- the first to dead-center with the bases empty in the fourth, the second to left-center with two on in the seventh -- and added a double in the ninth, helping to lead the Red Sox to a 10-1 thrashing of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Asked how he rebounded from the four-strikeout night Tuesday, Napoli deadpanned: "Obviously, pretty good.''

Continued Napoli: "I go day-by-day. I'm able to let things go. I had a rough night, but today is a new day. I just went into the cage and got back to my routine and focused on today.''

Napoli has 31 RBI in the first 27 games and has been, after a first-series drought, the team's most consistent run producer through the first four weeks of the season.

There was nothing cheap about either homer. The Blue Jays don't provide estimated distances for homers hit at Rogers Centre, but each had to travel a minimum of 450 feet.

"I hit them pretty good,'' acknowledged Napoli. "Good situations, hitters count... I was just trying to drive the ball. I was trying to hit them to gap and they just happened to get out.''

Napoli was already locked in after a warning-track flyout in the second inning and his rocket to straightaway center in the fourth. But when the Blue Jays chose to intentionally walk David Ortiz with first base open in the seventh, Napoli had some additional motivation.

"It feels good,'' said Napoli of the satisfaction he felt. "Having that protection (from Ortiz), it's going to happen. The more I come through, the tougher it's going to be for the opposing team to put him on base. It's an RBI situation out there and I'm trying to drive somebody in. It feels good to do it in that situation, but I'm just keeping the same approach every time.''

Napoli did a little fine-tuning during batting practice Wednesday afternoon, but he long ago mastered the ability to put the previous game behind him.

"I've been doing it long enough to understand that you can let those at-bats go,'' he said. "Of course, you don't want to do that. But you're not going to have a good night every night in baseball. I was able to let that go. I wish we would have won (Tuesday), but we didn't.

"But I know how to let things go and move on the next day. I let it go. And I'll let this (the two huge homers) go, too. I'll get out here tomorrow and go through the same routine and try to have another good day.''

Napoli conceded, however, that he wasn't always capable of putting the disappointment of a bad night behind him.

"I think early in my career,'' he said, "just trying to stay in the big leagues kind of wore on me a little bit. But I know that I'm going to be in there the next day and I can let that go now and get after it again. Being able to know you're going to be here and be in the lineup the next day, it's a little easier (to cope).''