Napoli, Sox being picky at the plate

Napoli, Sox being picky at the plate
April 30, 2014, 2:00 am
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BOSTON - Mike Napoli sees baseballs better than you.

Facts are facts, sorry.

Napoli continued his hot start to the season by going 1-for-3 with two walks Tuesday night. It's the 22nd straight game that Napoli has reached base (career high). In that span he's hit .313 (26-for-83) with 12 BB and two HBP. It's currently tied for the second-longest active streak along with Oakland's Josh Donaldson behind Jose Bautista's 26 games

And even when Napoli isn't getting on base, he's making his at-bats count. Napoli saw 33 pitches Tuesday night. To put that into perspective, seven players on the Rays saw 15 pitches or less.

It's not just Napoli though. The Sox top three batters in the order all saw at least 24 pitches too, and Will Middlebrooks saw 24 pitches in the No. 8 spot.

Being selective at the plate is something the Sox strive to be.

"It's like we're all working together to get that starter out early and try to get into that bullpen to wear them down," Napoli said. "First game of the series you get into the bullpen and have some guys pitch that usually pitch late in the game and maybe have them throw a lot of pitches where he can't come back and throw the next day. It's tough when your bullpen is getting taxed and you have to go to those days day after day."

Boston did most of its damage in the 6th inning, and it all started with a leadoff walk by - you guessed it - Napoli. It's a different type of mindset for Napoli when he's leading things off.

"I'm trying to get on base. Yeah I like to drive the ball, but no outs, nobody on, I'm just trying to get something started," Napoli said.

That walk proved to be the start of the Rays' end, as reliever Brandon Gomes was chased from the inning, and the reliever that replaced him, Juan Carlos Oviedo, gave up all the hits that led to runs.

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BASE KNOCKS

- The Sox have scored 7 or more runs in 3 of their last 4 games after doing so just once through their first 23 games.

- David Ortiz collected his 900th hit at Fenway Park as a member of the Red Sox. It was an RBI single in the 8th inning that scored Dustin Pedroia.

- Koji Uehara recorded a three-pitch save (three strikes) as he struck  out Ben Zobrist to end the game. It was the 2nd save of his career with three pitches or less (one pitch on 8/29/10 at LAA with Orioles).

- The Rays have lost 6 of their last 7 games and are a season-low 5 games under .500.

- Rays starters have lasted 5.0 innings or less in 11 of their last 15 games.