Saltalamacchia's late-inning heroics not enough

Saltalamacchia's late-inning heroics not enough
June 6, 2012, 5:14 am
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BOSTON -- He's not about to be confused with David Ortiz, but catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia now has two dramatic late-inning homers at Fenway the last two weeks.

Saltalamacchia, who won a game against Tampa Bay on May 26 with a pinch-hit, walkoff homer, delivered in the clutch again Tuesday night when he swatted a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game 6-6 with the Baltimore Orioles.

This one, however, didn't have the same impact, as the Red Sox went on to lose in the 10th, 8-6.

Still, it was hard to not be impressed with Saltalamacchia's growth as a hitter and the power surge he's been on of late.

In his last 20 games, Saltalamacchia has seven homers and 17 RBI and is hitting .349.

"He's been playing great,'' said Bobby Valentine of Saltalamacchia. "I think he's gaining confidence in all aspects of his game. He walks into the clubhouse and exudes confidence . . . He's a confident player right now.''

The homer came off Orioles closer Jim Johnson, who had been a perfect 17-for-17 in save chances this season and had converted his last 25, dating back to last Aug. 8.

"I was facing a good pitcher and I knew he had a good fastball,'' said Saltalamacchia, "so I was just trying to to be ready for it. I wasn't trying to do too much, just put the ball in play and keep the inning going anyway we can.''

The walkoff homer against the Rays on the last homestand didn't necessarily help Saltalamacchia in his approach Tuesday night. But success in those spots can breed more success.

"I don't think you ever think you're going to succeed (in that situation) every time,'' he said. "You've got a guy on the mound who throws hard. He's trying to get you out. He's not going to lay it over the plate for you.''

Saltalamacchia, hitting lefthanded against the righthanded Johnson, hit the ball the opposite way and it just cleared The Wall, settling into the first row of Monster Seats.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter urged the umpires to review the call on replay. They did and ruled that it was indeed a homer.

"I knew I hit it good, but I didn't think it was going to be out,'' said the catcher. "I thought it was going to be off the wall and at least be a double. A cold night like tonight, the ball doesn't carry very well. I was just happy that I hit the ball well, to get it off the wall, get the run in and keep the inning going.''