Red Sox postgame notes: Mike Napoli offers grand protection; Felix Doubront makes Live Ball Era history vs. Yanks; Jackie Bradley breaks through
|06.01.13 at 11:53 pm ET|
NEW YORK — A few quick postgame notes:
— Mike Napoli became the first Red Sox with multiple grand slams in a season since Ryan Kalish hit a pair in 2010. His four-run four-bagger came after an intentional walk to David Ortiz. In four plate appearances following an Ortiz intentional walk this year, Napoli is now 2-for-3 with two homers, a sac fly and eight RBI.
“I like protecting him and maybe giving managers another thought of doing that,” said Napoli. “I went in there and just tried to execute. Had a runner on third with less than two outs and tried to hit a fly ball.”
— Napoli, asked if he had any contact with the Yankees this offseason during his strange stretch of limbo while trying to work out a deal with the Red Sox, said that there “might have been a little bit but nothing crazy.”
— Felix Doubront was outstanding, delivering six innings of one-run ball in which he struck out six and walked three. He threw 103 pitches, but just 54 (13.5 per inning) over his final four frames. That continued a remarkable introduction to the Yankees. Doubront has now thrown quality starts in each of his five career starts against the Yankees, becoming the first pitcher to open his career against New York with five straight quality starts in the Live Ball Era (dating to 1920).
“That’s a big part ‘ the challenge. I like that challenge. I try to beat them every time,” Doubront said of his success against New York. “I think adrenaline and wanting to win the game against the Yankees. It’s a lot of things going on in my mind in that moment that made me have confidence and have a lot of conviction.”
Manager John Farrell broke down the sources of Doubront’s success on Saturday night.
“He started to get a very good curveball in the strike zone that guy guys were taking for strike three, swinging over as well,” said Farrell. “Tonight was a four-pitch mix for him. I thought he threw a number of good cutters. He’s always got that changeup he can go to. But still, it’s attacking and getting ahead with his fastball. That sets the tone for the at-bat.”
— Jackie Bradley Jr. went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles — matching his hit total from his entire first callup in the big leagues in one night, and exceeding his extra-base hits. The fact that he smashed a double over the head of Brett Gardner to straightaway center and later drilled a ball that bounced on the warning track close to the left field foul pole suggested to Bradley that his swing and approach are where they need to be.
“Just trying to stay back on the ball, not trying to be too anxious. That’s when I feel like I’m at my best, when I can drive the ball to the opposite field or dead center and also being able to react on the inside pitches, fight those off,” said Bradley. “[Playing with] more confidence and just not really going about it being timid, trying to be aggressive.”
The 23-year-old said that he’s still seeing plenty of the inside fastballs on the fists that he could not handle in his first stretch in the big leagues to start the year. So what’s the difference this go-round, in which he’s now 4-for-10?
“Sometimes being able to give them that pitch, still look for a pitch that you want and not give in,” said Bradley. “I was able to fight off some inside pitches today. I actually, with two strikes as well, I actually missed a pitch that was inside that I wish I could have had back, the pop-up, but I’ve been feeling pretty good.
Asked whether he fell into a trap of being too patient in his first stint in the big leagues, Bradley dismissed the notion.
“I don’t feel like it was backfiring. I feel like I was just not really in sync. You try to stay with your same approach, seeing pitches. That’s just who I am,” said Bradley. “I’m going to see pitches, try to make the pitcher work. That way, I can learn them. It was my first turn going around. So I’m just trying to get a feel for pitchers, start learning them, stuff like that, and the best way to do that is to see pitches. Strikeouts are going to happen. I definitely don’t want them to happen. But I think it’s a learning experience that I’ll be able to use next time.”
— Daniel Nava couldn’t have had a much tougher game on Friday going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a double play — on a night when he had a beef with home plate ump Lance Barksdale. So, his performance on Saturday — 4-for-6 with his eighth homer of the year (on an 0-2 count, no less), matching a career-high in hits on the one-year anniversary of the first time that he reached that milestone — was noteworthy.
“Just an outstanding offensive performance by him. We’ve talked about many times, his path, his pedigree, or lack of, and yet all he does is go out and perform and produce,” said Farrell. “He’s a hitter that when he gets pitches in the strike zone, he puts a good swing on it. We saw it with the at-bats tonight. His frustration showed last night for the first time that I’ve seen him. He may have had a reason to feel that way. A good bounceback day for him.’
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