Before Will Middlebrooks was unexpectedly forced into action in Boston this season, the thought was that the 23-year-old still needed time to develop his game before making the leap to the big leagues. Now 18 games into his Red Sox career and the third baseman appears to be not only the future but the present.
Middlebrooks put together another impressive performance on Monday night, initiating the offense for the Red Sox with a 3-for-5 night and driving in the game-winning run in the top of the seventh inning. The Red Sox 8-6 win was a group effort, with Middlebrooks and David Ortiz leading the charge.
Clay Buchholz struggled on the evening, allowing five earned runs over 5 1/3 innings of work and digging Boston into an early 5-2 hole. But the combination of Middlebrooks and David Ortiz led the charge for the Red Sox offense and turned what looked like a tough loss into a big-time victory.
With the win the Red Sox got back to .500 (21-21) for the first time since late April and the team hopes to continue it recent hot streak. Middlebrooks has been a big part of the turnaround and with the effort he continues to prove that he deserves to be an everyday player for the Red Sox.
The energy that he brings on a daily basis has been almost addictive for the rest of his Boston teammates. He's got the desire and the passion for the game that sometimes can be lost in the hectic nature of a 162-game schedule.
Manager Bobby Valentine commented on Middlebrooks effort and pure pelasure after the Red Sox 8-6 win, saying simply "He's a joy to watch."
A joy, indeed. A guy that wears his heart on his sleeve and seems to take everyplay just as serious as the last and maybe even moreso than the next. That type of passion is exactly the kind of motivation the Red Sox need heading into the middle part of the season.
Even with Kevin Youkilis likely to return to the lineup within the next few days, it's become fairly obvious that Middlebrooks belongs with the big club. In fact he has earned his keep as an everyday starter, whether he's able to keep that title or not.