Dustin Pedroia’s hustle and grit have been on display since Day 1. But his effort this season provides a perfect snap shot of the 2013 Red Sox.
Pedroia’s .335 average, .423 on-base percentage, 27 runs, 25 walks and 1.6 offensive wins above replacement are all tops on the Red Sox. He entered Friday’s game hitting .500 (16-for-32) over the course of an eight-game hit streak, and he’s now reached safely in 38 of Boston’s 42 games.
Pretty good, right?
Well, even though Pedroia’s numbers have him firmly entrenched among the American League’s top hitters through roughly a quarter of the season, his performance hasn’t been without skeptics. “Sure, he gets on base, but where’s the power,” they say.
It’s a valid question when you consider Pedroia has just 11 extra-base hits and one home run through 42 contests, but the early-season power outage shouldn’t take away from what the three-time All-Star has meant and continues to mean to the Red Sox.
Pedroia’s season is in many ways a microcosm of this year’s team. The Sox grind out at-bats, they get on-base, they battle through struggles and they leave it all on the field. It isn’t always pretty, but it has gotten the job done more often than not so far.
If Pedroia’s season is a molecule in the Red Sox’ chemical makeup, then the second baseman’s effort in Friday’s 3-2, extra-inning win was an atom. It was a microcosm of the microcosm — a gritty performance by a gritty player who personifies a gritty team.
Pedroia’s night at the plate was disastrous through the first nine innings. He grounded into an inning-ending double play in the third inning, and it only got worse from there. Pedroia grounded into another inning-ending double play with runners at the corners in a one-run game in the fifth inning, and he popped out with two runners in scoring position in a tie game in the seventh inning. When his at-bat to lead off the 10th inning rolled around, Pedroia was 0-for-4 with six men left on base.
Pedroia could have hung his head, but let’s be real here. That was never going to happen. Instead, Pedroia shot a base hit into right field to lead off the 10th inning, and he eventually came around to score the game-winning run on Jonny Gomes’ sacrifice fly.
It was an ugly night, but Pedroia pushed through. He made some key defensive plays throughout the game, and he eventually came up big when it mattered most. So did the Red Sox.
The gutsy performance speaks volumes about the player, and it inherently speaks volumes about the team. The Red Sox’ relentless style of play — to take a phrase from John Farrell — has given the Red Sox a winning formula, and No. 15 continues to be a perfect main ingredient.