Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/14/14
The Red Sox dropped two winnable games in a row to the Orioles, spoiling what had the potential to be a tempo-setting first home series. If there is a silver lining to Boston’s subpar offensive output in Thursday’s 3-2 loss, though, it’s the increased comfort that Mike Napoli appears to have at the plate. Napoli entered Thursday’s contest hitting just .211 (6-for-34) with only one multi-hit game and on the heels of a 0-for-3 night on Wednesday. The Red Sox’ cleanup hitter helped supply half of Boston’s offense while going 2-for-4 in Thursday’s losing effort, however, and his nine-pitch battle against Orioles starter Chris Tillman serves as proof that the slugger is making strides at the dish. “Yeah it is,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said when asked if this is the best he’s seen Napoli so far this season. “Against good stuff against Tillman tonight, you can see his timing getting a little bit more consistent. They attacked him with fastballs away, up and down away, and some breaking balls and he’s starting to foul pitches off that he three or four days ago wasn’t quite getting to. He’s starting to settle in pretty good.” The nine-pitch at-bat came in the third inning, and Napoli’s RBI single gave the Red Sox their only lead of the night. Dustin Pedroia had tied the game with an RBI single into right field the at-bat before, and Napoli came up with two on and two outs. Napoli fell behind in the count 0-2 after fouling off the first two pitches he saw, but he would eventually work the count full as Tillman dished out a combination of fastballs and cutters. After Napoli took two straight pitches to make the count 3-2, Tillman went to the slider to try and put Napoli away, but the Red Sox first baseman fouled it away to see another pitch. On pitch No. 9, Tillman went back to the fastball. It was middle in, and Napoli ripped the offering into left field. The ball nearly hung up long enough for left fielder Nate McLouth to make a play, but it dropped just under his glove, allowing Shane Victorino to come around with Boston’s second run of the ballgame. The Red Sox wouldn’t score again, as Will Middlebrooks grounded out to end the third inning and the offense sputtered from there. Napoli’s lengthy at-bat is the type of AB that wears pitchers down, though, and more of those going forward should benefit the Red Sox in the long run. The only other major Boston rally came in the sixth, and it was started by Napoli, who singled into center to lead off the inning. Daniel Nava added a hit of his own two batters later, but Brian Matsusz came on to get the Orioles out of trouble. Overall, Napoli saw 18 pitches while raising his season average to .231. It meant little in the grand scheme of the game, and it’ll mean even less if he can’t start consistently stringing together at-bats like that third-inning AB. In a two-game span that saw some crushing moments for the Red Sox, though, it’s at least something positive to take away. Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here. 
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Wizards apologize for odd Black History Month tribute

Report: McCoy may want more money from Bills

Andre Johnson laughed upon hearing he wouldn't start

Brad Stevens: LeBron 'looks like the MVP to me'

Le'Veon Bell tees off on Mel Kiper Jr. over Twitter

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Eagles ship LeSean McCoy to Bills for Kiko Alonso

Murray would reportedly give Cowboys hometown discount

Report: Giants ‘considering a run’ at Ndamukong Suh

Darnell Dockett reportedly visiting 49ers on Tuesday

David West on Brian Shaw being fired: ‘That’s bulls–t'

Hamels trade talk motivating Red Sox pitching staff

Columbus Zoo names newborn penguin after Ezekiel Elliott

Matt Barnes blasts NBA over James Harden suspension

Joe Rogan: Ronda Rousey could beat half the men

Bills tell C.J. Spiller he won't be re-signed

Ohio State self-reported funny NCAA violation

Lupul, Phaneuf, Cuthbert threaten lawsuit against TSN

Report: Adrian Peterson has trade list of five preferred teams

Murphy disagrees with Billy Bean’s homosexual 'lifestyle'

Trent Cole has ‘no respect’ for Eagles after release from team

Ronda Rousey lands free ticket to Pacquiao-Mayweather bout

Report: Celtics to pursue Love, Monroe and Gasol this summer

Trying to solve the Alex Guerrero problem

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Stevens: LeBron looks like the MVP

Spiller: EJ Manuel learned not to be 'buddy buddy' with everyone

Ten most underrated NFL free agents

Five potential landing spots for Andre Johnson

Texas-Baylor fight leads to 7 ejections

Mark Cuban will be Prez in 'Sharknado 3'

Report: Redskins interested in Suh

Report: Revis likely to hit free agency

Steve Spurrier joins Twitter

MJ makes Forbes billionaire list

Nick Young fires back at Robert Flores

Sad LeBron literally looks in mirror after loss to Rockets

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.