Red Sox show Will power, roll over Jays
"I was blowing on it running down the line but it didn't have enough steam," the Boston Red Sox third baseman said.
Before that eighth-inning at-bat in the Red Sox 13-0 victory Sunday over the Toronto Blue Jays, Middlebrooks had three of Boston's six home runs and a double to drive in four runs in front of 41,168 at Rogers Centre.
It was the first three-homer game of his career and gave him four for the season. He is the first Red Sox player to hit three homers in a game since Dustin Pedroia did it against the Rockies on June 24, 2010.
Two of his homers Sunday were against Toronto knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey.
"I just tried to stay patient," Middlebrooks said. "I got in a couple of counts where I thought he'd throw me fastballs and he did. They were good pitches and I didn't miss them."
He said both homers against Dickey came on fastballs and the double came on a knuckleball. Right-handed reliever David Bush, who came on in the fifth inning to replace Dickey, allowed the other four Red Sox homers.
Mike Napoli also drove in four runs with a double and a home run.
Daniel Nova and Jacoby Ellsbury hit the other homers for the Red Sox (4-2) in the rubber match of the three-game series that ended a disappointing season-opening homestand for the Blue Jays (2-4).
"I faced R.A. in spring training, so I kind of had an idea of what his movement was and his velocity, because he throws a lot harder than a lot of guys," Middlebrooks said. "I know certain counts he likes to go to fastballs when he's not locating his knuckleball well. He tries to get ahead with the fastball and that helped, knowing that."
Left-hander Jon Lester (2-0) held the Blue Jays to five hits while striking out six in seven innings.
"A lot of quality strikes," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He delivered the ball downhill. He carried his stuff through the full seven innings."
The hitters gave Lester more support than he needed against Dickey (0-2), rapping out 10 hits and scoring eight runs (seven earned) against him in 4 2/3 innings. The 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner with the New York Mets allowed five runs before he retired a batter.
"Throughout the course of the season you're going to have a clunker or two," Dickey said. "You just got to try forget as soon as you can. And obviously today was one of those days for me."
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said that he was not concerned about Dickey. "It's two games in," he said. "He's going to have a great year for us. They just hit him hard, I don't know any other way to describe it."
The first five Red Sox batters of the game scored. Ellsbury and Napoli doubled, Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia singled and Middlebrooks hit a two-run homer. The first two outs in the first were on fly balls to the warning track.
The Red Sox scored an unearned run in the third. Middlebrooks doubled with one out, took third on Henry Blanco's passed ball and scored on Nava's sacrifice fly.
Middlebrooks hit his second homer of the game on a 3-2 count to lead off the fifth.
"Good Lord, he had about 2,000 feet of homers, it seemed like," Lester said. "He obviously feels pretty good at the plate. It's fun to watch."
"He swung the bat exceptionally well, as was the case with a number of guys up and down the lineup," Farrell said. "I thought we had a very good approach against Dickey. We laid off some tough knuckleballs down in the bottom of the zone."
NOTES: The Red Sox open their home slate today at 2 p.m. against the Baltimore Orioles. ... Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (twisted right ankle) did not play for the third game in a row. He is expected to play Tuesday in Detroit after today's off-day in the schedule. ... Red Sox DH David Ortiz (right Achilles) is scheduled to start at extended spring training today and in about three days begin a minor-league rehabilitation assignment. ... Boston shortstop Jose Iglesias was back in the lineup Sunday after sitting out Saturday with a bruised arm after being hit by a pitch in Friday's game. ... A fan ran on the field and slid into second base in the top of the eighth. He was caught by security as he tried to climb the center-field wall.