It seems that the only thing keeping Mike Carp from producing on an everyday basis is his playing time.
Carp, who was acquired in the offseason to be the Red Sox’ backup first baseman and extra outfielder, continues to impress his teammates and coaches. He seemingly leaves his mark each game that he’s penciled into the starting nine, and he might start seeing his name on John Farrell’s lineup card more frequently as a result.
Carp got the nod in left field for Saturday’s game against the Orioles, and he responded by going 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored as the Red Sox earned a 7-3 win. Stephen Drew might have played the role of hero with a two-home run performance, but Carp was the catalyst in Boston’s offense, helping to set the table for Drew’s breakout effort.
“In that fourth inning, I thought the at-bat that Carp had to extend the inning, Salty (Jarrod Saltalamacchia) gets a first-pitch base hit and then the three-run home run by Drew. It felt like [in] that inning we kind of got going a little bit with the at-bat that Carp put up, and finally we’ve been able to put together a couple of two-out hits,” Farrell said of Boston’s three-run fourth, which was sparked by Carp’s two-out single.
Carp’s playing time has been sporadic all season. There have been stretches when Farrell has decided to ride his hot bat, and there have been other times when the 27-year-old has gone a number of games without garnering a single plate appearance. One thing that hasn’t changed much, however, is how solid Carp has been when called upon. It’s a testament to his preparation, regardless of whether or not he’s in the starting lineup, and it goes to show how determined he is to make the most of his opportunities, which may increase because of his knack for stepping up.
“He’s done a heck of a job when called upon, and you might look down and say, ‘You know what? He probably should get some more at-bats coming up here the way he’s been swinging the bat,’ and he just well might,” Farrell said.
Carp is now hitting .329 (47-for-143) with eight home runs, 28 RBIs and a .388 on-base percentage in 55 games. He has five games of at least three hits, and he has reached in 19 of his last 21 contests. Among AL hitters with at least 100 plate appearances, Carp trails only Chris Davis, Jeff Baker and Miguel Cabrera in OPS with a 1.010 mark.
Carp’s sample size is still relatively small, but there comes a point when you must begin making a concerted effort to get one of your hottest hitters into the starting lineup more consistently. It sounds like we’re one step closer to that point.