Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 4/12/13
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

WATCH: John Harbaugh, Jay Gruden get into shouting match

WATCH: Brian Hartline drags toes on great TD catch

Julio Jones, Falcons agree on 5-year contract extension

WATCH: Blue Jays' Edwin Encarnacion blasts three homers, extends hit streak

WATCH: Usain Bolt does LeBron stomp dance after relay win

WATCH: Vick's first pass as a Steeler is a 63-yard bomb

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

WATCH: Montana's Ben Roberts makes amazing TD catch

Report: Robert Griffin III doesn’t believe he ever had a concussion

Arkansas punter arrested after found urinating on a light pole

Rex Ryan names all four QBs as Buffalo Bills captains in Week 3

Trent Williams signs $66 million contract extension

WATCH: Kenny Chesney joins 'Free Tom Brady' movement

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

Fantasy football round-by-round draft strategy

Ronda Rousey's Carl’s Jr. ad

The WWE Divas Revolution is getting ugly

The NFL’s season kickoff isn’t going as planned, but plans don’t matter in the NFL

The Opening Drive: What happened to all the great Michigan tailbacks?

The 1980s Lakers represent the NBA’s ultimate creation story

The Orioles’ frustrating season

Five greatest NBA players of all-time

Finding signs of life for the Red Sox

10 NFL players set for down seasons in 2015

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker