Middlebrooks continues to rake

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Middlebrooks continues to rake

BOSTON The Will Middlebrooks express just keeps steaming along. The rookie went 3-for-4, with a run scored and two RBI, falling a triple shy of the cycle in Saturdays 8-4 win over the Braves.

His performance raised his average from .319 to .331.

He had a good game tonight and like all good hitters hes seeing the ball well right now. manager Bobby Valentine said. Hes taking the low breaking ball and spitting out most of the time or if he swings at it the first time, he takes it the next time he sees it. Hes getting the ball in the zone and hitting it hard. Good game tonight.

That has not been a novelty of late for Middlebrooks.

His solo home run, leading off the third, was his third in the last four games and ninth of the season. He has at least one RBI, with a total of 11, in six of his last seven games and has an extra-base hit in his of his last five games, going 10-for-14 (.714) with three doubles, three home runs, and nine RBI in that stretch.

I feel really comfortable seeing it early and seeing it long, said Middlebrooks, who wasnt aware he had just missed hitting for the cycle until informed of it after the game.

Just getting good pitches to hit and not missing them.

Middlebrooks was called up May 2, to take the spot of Kevin Youkilis, who was placed on the disabled list that day with a lower back strain. Since May 23, Middlebrooks has reached base safely in 20 of 21 games, batting .385 (25-for-65) with four walks, getting hit by pitches twice.

He is the first American League player with 33 RBI in his first 40 games since Californias Wally Joyner with 38 in 1986. It is the most RBI to start a Red Sox career since Walt Dropos 34 in his first 40 games from 1949-1950.

Middlebrooks nine home runs are the most by a Boston batter in his first 40 major league games in the last 25 years.

While each of those stats are impressive, just as impressive is the fact that hes been able to do this while being caught, if tangentially, in the controversy over third base playing time and the speculation over Youkilis being traded.

"I dont care, I really dont, he said. Im here to play baseball. Im not here to be an analyst. Ill let you the media do your job and Ill do mine.

Asked if he had envisioned performing this well in the big leagues, he replied:

"I wanted to get here that was my main goal. Im happy with it. Really didnt have any expectations."

Moreland, Travis homer to lead Red Sox past Northeastern 9-6 in opener

Moreland, Travis homer to lead Red Sox past Northeastern 9-6 in opener

Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis hit three-run homers and left-hander Brian Johnson started and pitched two scoreless innings to help the Red Sox win their spring training opener, 9-6, over Northeastern University on Thursday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Johnson, who made one spot start in his MLB debut with the Red Sox in 2015 but then was derailed by injuries and anxiety issues last season, struck out three and walked one Thursday. He's expected to start the season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he went 5-6 with a 4.44 ERA in 15 starts in 2016.

Moreland, the left-handed hitting first baseman signed to a one-year deal after spending his first seven seasons with the Texas Rangers, and Travis, a right-handed hitting first base prospect coming back from knee surgery last season, each hit three-run homers in a six-run third inning.

Pablo Sandoval, attempting to reclaim the third-base job after missing nearly all of last season after surgery on his left shoulder, went 1-for-2 with a double. 

The Red Sox open Grapefruit League play Friday afternoon when they host the New York Mets at JetBlue Park. 

Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

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Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

CSN baseball analyst Lou Merloni sits down with Pedro Martinez and Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis to discuss one of Pedro's greatest games. 

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On September 10, 1999 at the height of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, Pedro Martinez struck out 17 Yankees in a complete game victory, with the only hit he allowed being a home run to Chili Davis. The two men recall that memorable night in the Bronx, and discuss the state of pitching in 2017.