Brandon Snyder caps memorable week with key role in Red Sox victory
|06.30.13 at 8:59 pm ET|
When Brandon Snyder stepped to the plate with one out and the bases empty in the ninth inning of a 4-4 game Sunday afternoon, he felt good about facing Blue Jays reliever Juan Perez.
The two have matched up a number of times in the minors in recent seasons, according to the Red Sox third baseman, and Snyder most recently watched Perez when the left-hander threw 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for Triple-A Buffalo against Snyder’s PawSox on April 23.
So Sunday at Fenway Park, a 5-4 Red Sox victory, Snyder had a pretty good idea of what he wanted to do when he initiated the eventual game-winning rally with a 1-1 single through the right side.
“I kind of knew what he was going to try to do, and then once he threw me a slider [for a called strike to make it 1-1] I pretty much knew, ‘All right, he’s going to try to get another strike here,’ ” Snyder said. “So kind of just bear down and not try to do too much.
“I’m looking for a fastball because he throws upper 90s — he’s a good pitcher, so you can’t sit there and try to guess — but you have to sit on the fastball.”
It was a sinker, not a four-seam fastball, and it was only 93 mph, not high 90s, but the result was about as much as Snyder could ask for.
Once Jacoby Ellsbury walked, Jonathan Diaz pinch ran for Snyder and came around to score after Toronto first baseman Josh Thole erred while attempting to field Shane Victorino’s grounder, which kicked on into right field.
Ryan Lavarnway, who has spent time with Snyder in both Triple-A and Boston this season, commended his teammate’s late-game plate approach.
“The biggest thing is to avoid the temptation of trying to hit it over that green wall that’s real close,” Lavarnway said of batting with the game on the line. “Snyder, not having played here for very long, he did a great job staying with his approach, going to right field. I have to give him a lot of credit.”
The ninth-inning single capped a strong game and exciting week for the 26-year-old, who on Tuesday was called up from Pawtucket when Will Middlebrooks was demoted.
Sunday was Snyder’s second game and first start with the Red Sox, and he opened it by lining a two-run double to left-center in the bottom of the second. It was the first time he drove in a big league run in more than a year, his last RBI coming June 26, 2012 when he was with the Rangers.
With power threats David Ortiz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Mike Carp available off the bench, Snyder getting pinch hit for was, on paper, an option in the ninth. Instead, John Farrell gave him a big-time vote of confidence.
“That defensive play that Snyder makes down the line in that eighth inning, in addition to the two RBIs,” the manager said. “He earned that at-bat.”
The play at third came with one out in the eighth inning, the Red Sox clinging to what at the time was a 4-3 lead. J.P. Arencibia sent a ground ball to deep third, and Snyder made the smooth backhanded stop followed by a long throw to first to keep the bases empty.
The hot corner is not Snyder’s primary position — he has gotten the bulk of his time at first with Pawtucket — but he has been working to improve his comfort level across the diamond.
“I feel good, I feel confident,” Snyder said. “I’ve been doing a lot of extra work with [third base coach Brian] Butterfield, and it’s to the point now where it doesn’t feel like it’s my secondary position. That’s where I feel most comfortable right now.”
For Alex Wilson, another player who has worked with Snyder both at Triple-A and in the majors in 2013, Sunday was just a day in which Snyder did what Wilson knows he is fully capable of doing.
“He’s a consistent guy, he comes in and he works hard every single day. He puts his time in,” Wilson said. “He’s a guy who does all the right things and has success on the field, that’s a good thing to see.”
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