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. 
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Jim Harbaugh to Michigan is done deal

Amari Cooper not a fan of New Orleans, thinks it smells

WATCH: Jennifer Lawrence does Louisville chant at game

WATCH: Did Bret Bielema do ‘Horns Down’ gesture?

Devils unveil unique coaching by committee situation

Report: 49ers expect Jim Harbaugh to take Michigan job

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Johnny Manziel fined for being late to treatment

Duke Johnson's mother says son will enter NFL Draft

Starlin Castro questioned following nightclub shooting

Report: Jeff Driskel thinking about transfer to Duke

Browns suspend Josh Gordon for final game of season

Report: Rex Ryan has already cleaned out his office

WATCH: Nebraska safety pukes on field, keeps playing

WATCH: Nyquist holds puck for 28 seconds, scores OT winner

WATCH: Kevin Garnett blows in David West's ear

WATCH: Frank Beamer busts a move after bowl win

Bears could clean house after season

Nebraska chancellor booed by Huskers players?

WATCH: Rory McIlroy trolled by 'Sweet Caroline' song

Auburn, Wisconsin players literally ate tons of food

Did Kobe Bryant respond to heckler with the rings count?

Doug Fister bought Starbucks for his Twitter followers

DeMarco Murray dumped over cheating accusations?

Video: Rudy Gay tosses half-court alley-oop to McLemore

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.

Amari Cooper not a fan of New Orleans

Harbaugh to Mich. is done deal

WATCH: Jennifer Lawrence supports Louisville with chant

Did Bielema do ‘Horns Down’?

WATCH: Beamer busts a move

Bears could clean house after season

Nebraska chancellor booed by players?

Johnny Manziel fined by Browns

Castro questioned after shooting

Rory McIlroy trolled with 'Sweet Caroline'

Browns suspend Josh Gordon

Kobe gives heckler the rings count?

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.