A hamstring injury sidelined the Red Sox rookie third baseman since July 1 and forced him to miss the crucial series against the Yankees. But it appears the All-Star break — and a trip home to Texas — was the perfect antidote to his ailing hamstring.
As a result of the rest, Middlebrooks sparked Boston in his second game back in the lineup, unloading on David Price's 96 mph fastball for a two-run shot. If the Red Sox placed him on the disabled list, he wouldn't have been available for Saturday's game.
Despite the 5-3 defeat against the Rays, it was an encouraging sight for the Red Sox. With Middlebrooks out of the lineup, Boston has struggled without its rising star, tallying a 2-13 record in his absence this season.
Had it not been for Clay Buchholz's woes in the seventh, Middlebrooks' blast might have resulted in the go-ahead run. Although the Red Sox coughed up the lead, the team can still look ahead to more contributions from Middlebrooks.
"He's got a great power factor," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine told reporters in St. Petersburg. "He never gets down on himself. Had a few swing and misses… but had a home run against an All-Star pitcher."
It was Middlebrooks' first homer since June 29, a solo shot in a victory over the Mariners. Despite the gap between round-trippers, Middlebrooks demonstrated his ability regain his timing and rhythm in pretty quick fashion.
If the hamstring issues remain in the past, Middlebrooks merely adds another threat to the Red Sox's potent lineup. When the 23-year-old has played this season, Boston has posted a 29-17 record.
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