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In 18 games this season, Kevin Youkilis is hitting (if you can call it that) .219/.292/.344 with 2 HRs, 9 RBI and just 5 walks.
Meanwhile, in 4 games this season, Will Middlebrooks is hitting .381/.405/.952 with 3 HRs and 9 RBI.
That’s right. Forgot the averages for just a moment. Middlebrooks has one more home run and the same number of RBI’s as Youkilis in 14 fewer games and 43 fewer at-bats.
Of course, much of his success can be attributed to his efforts Monday night in Kansas City, where he went 3-5 with 2 HRs, 5 RBI and two runs scored.
His timing was good, too. The Red Sox had just lost their fifth straight game in excruciating fashion, falling in 17 innings to the Orioles. Their cleanup hitter (Adrian Gonzalez) just went 0-8 for the first time in franchise history, and they were just about out of rested pitchers at the major league level.
So, with his team in trouble, Middlebrooks blasted a three-run homer to give the Red Sox a 4-0, first-inning lead. I know it was only the first, but the home run just felt clutch based on the pressure on the club and the circumstances of their most recent defeat on Sunday.
Then, in the eighth inning, after the Royals had just scored to make it a 7-5 game, Cody Ross hit a two-run double to make it 9-5. Middlebrooks then stuck a dagger into the Royals, blasting his second home run to put the game out of reach at 11-5 and give Sox reliever Vicente Padilla some breathing room. Felix Doubront (2-1) ended up earning the win.
It’s easy to overreact when a prospect joins the big leagues, but it’s pretty clear (to me anyway) that Middlebrooks is giving them some new, young energy and it may start to translate in the win column. If that’s the case, it may also force him to remain in Boston for good and may force Ben Cherington to put Youk on the trading block.