Pedroia (thumb) out of the lineup vs. Oakland

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Pedroia (thumb) out of the lineup vs. Oakland

OAKLAND -- Dustin Pedroia is out of the lineup in the road trip finale, advised by the training staff to not swing a bat, having jammed his thumb in Tuesday night's walkoff loss to Oakland.

The soreness is in a different area than the spot that has bothered Pedroia since early May and forced him to miss a week's worth of action earlier this season.

"It's pretty frustrating," said Pedroia, who's expected to be examined Thursday when the Sox return from the West Coast. "It was fine during the game (Tuesday night), and then I was sore after the game and today Im pretty sore. Maybe its from when I dove for that ball in right field. I dont know what happened.

"I just think he needs these two days (Wednesday and the day off that follows)," said Bobby Valentine. "And so does he. He's a little stiff here and there."

With Pedroia sidelined, Nick Punto is playing second, with Mauro Gomez at third for the first time in the big leagues.

Gomez was signed as a third baseman, but hasn't played much there above Single A, where he made 39 errors in 71 games. And with sinkerballer
Aaron Cook pitching for the Red Sox, Gomez is likely to get plenty of action at an unfamiliar position.

"It is what it is," shrugged Valentine. "What are we going to do?"

Will Middlebrooks is not an option for Wednesday. He's missed three games now with a strained left hamstring, suffered Sunday in Seattle.

"Will felt better, a little better than yesterday," said Valentine.

The Sox are still hopeful that they can avoid placing Middlebrooks on the DL.

Valentine has to hope that Wednesday's makeshift lineup can do better. Over the first six games of the trip, the Sox have scored just 12 runs -- and five of those came in one game.

In the five other games, the Red Sox have scored two runs or fewer.

"I think we're ready to break out," said Valentine. "The bad news is we haven't hit. The good news is we will."

Bogaerts hitting at a record-setting pace

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Bogaerts hitting at a record-setting pace

A change of scenery is a must for the Red Sox after the rough series in Texas, where they were lucky to walk away with one win.

The pitching staff's struggles were the most apparent, but Xander Bogaerts had arguably his worst series of the season -- 2-for-12 at the plate and two errors in the field.

Although Bogaerts now finds himself three points behind José Altuve (.347) for the American League batting lead, he still leads the major leagues with 108 hits. He has more hits than Daniel Murphy, who’s at .349 in the National League.

And despite his weekend struggles, the Boston shortstop is in position to make a run at history  -- the single-season hits record.

Bogaerts is already in a comfortable spot to break Wade Boggs’ Red Sox record of 240 hits, set in 1985. Through 74 games, Bogaerts has 10 more hits than the Hall-of-Famer had at that point in the season.

He's also ahead of the pace set in 2004 by Ichiro Suzuki, who established the MLB record for most hits in a season with 262 that year. Bogarts has five more hits than Ichiro had through 74 games.

There's no guarantee he'll reach 262, or anything close. Ichiro had a strong finishing kick in '04, batting .418 with 159 hits after his 74th game. In fact, in his final 74 games, he hit .433 with 141 hits. He's left challengers in the dust before: Altuve was equal to Ichiro's pace in 2014 -- both had 105 hits in their first 76 games -- but wound up with "only" 225 hits.

So, admittedly, Bogaerts is facing an uphill battle.

He does have a one advantage over Ichiro, though. In 2004, Suzuki -- still playing for the Mariners -- usually had Randy Winn hitting behind him. Although Winn was a respectable player, he doesn’t command the respect of the hitter who's usually behind Bogaerts: David Ortiz.

Opposing pitchers still don’t plan to attack Bogaerts, but it’d only be worse if pretty much anyone other than Ortiz was coming up next.

And there’s one last set of statistics to consider:

Suzuki finished 2004 with 80 games in which he had at least two hits. That’s 49.7 percent of the games he played in.

Bogaerts has done that 33 times -- 44.6 percent of his games. So he needs to string together some big games if he intends to make an improbable run at the 12-year-old record.

Improbable, yes.

But definitely not impossible.

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