Commentary

Lowrie's patience paying off big

Hitting .625 over a seven-game hitting streak, utility infielder making a statement

Updated: April 19, 2011, 8:39 AM ET
By Steven Krasner | Special to ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- When you're hot as a hitter, it seems that every time you make contact with the ball, it finds a hole.

The Red Sox's Jed Lowrie certainly qualifies as a hot hitter. A white-hot hitter. And he has, indeed, hit some balls that were nicely placed, which helps explain why he is batting .625 (15-for-24) in his seven-game hitting streak.

But there has been very little luck involved in Lowrie's surge, which included a 4-for-5 performance in Boston's 9-1 Patriots Day victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on Monday.

The switch-hitting Lowrie smacked three singles and a two-run homer from the right side before whiffing in his final at-bat from the left side.

[+] EnlargeJed Lowrie
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonJed Lowrie continued his tear Monday, going 4-for-5 with four RBIs to raise his average to .516.

As he has been saying all weekend, it is a matter of preparing himself in a nice routine that works for him and has helped him produce so well lately, vaulting the utility infielder into the starting lineup and pushing former shortstop starter Marco Scutaro to the bench for now.

"I'm a very patient person," Lowrie said as the Sox packed up and left Fenway for a nine-game trip that will begin Tuesday night in Oakland.

"I knew that all I had to do was trust my approach, get healthy and get stronger," said Lowrie, a 6-foot, 180-pounder whose progress has been hampered by a serious wrist injury and mononucleosis in the past few seasons.

His first at-bat Monday provided a perfect example of how locked in Lowrie is right now. The Sox went from a first-and-third, none-out opportunity in the first inning to a bases-filled, two-out situation without a run having scored. Up stepped Lowrie, batting right-handed against Toronto left-hander Ricky Romero. He smacked the first pitch he saw on the line to right field, the opposite field, for a two-run single and a 2-0 lead, making sure the rally didn't fizzle.

"You have to be balanced to be able to do that," manager Terry Francona said. "That's a really good sign. He's swinging the bat really well. That's the understatement of the day."

Lowrie's productive day continued. In the third he sizzled a single to right-center. In the fifth he turned on a pitch and drove it over the Green Monster in left-center for a two-run homer, stretching the Red Sox's advantage to 5-0.

In the sixth, he grounded a ball through the left side for another single. But with a chance to go 5-for-5, he was struck out by Casey Janssen.

"It was in the back of mind in my approach," he said of his 5-for-5 attempt. "I got one good pitch to hit early [in the at-bat], and I fouled it back. He's got a good curveball, and I was aware of that. Then he threw me a high fastball and got me to chase it."

On the way back to the dugout, Lowrie got a nice ovation for his big day.

"I heard it," he said, "but I wasn't sure what it was for. I think it was a matter of the fans recognizing somebody who had been able to put together a pretty productive day with the bat," said Lowrie, now batting .516 (16-for-31) this season.

The way he has been stringing together solid at-bats has been noticed with appreciation by Kevin Youkilis, a master at grinding out at-bats.

"He's taking good swings," Youkilis said. "It's not that he's being lucky. He's taking a great approach. He has no chance of hitting .500 [for the season]. I'd like to see him do it, but the law of averages is against him. But he's doing damage, driving the ball well."

Lowrie, meanwhile, has been confident all along that he has deserved to be considered an everyday player in the majors. So although he probably doesn't expect to hit .500 for the season, either, he doesn't seem surprised that he is having success.

"It has always been one of the best things about me as a baseball player: recognizing pitches," he said. "All I need to do is get at-bats."

He has been getting them and making them count. And he figures to keep on getting at-bats so long as he continues to put together quality ones.

Steven Krasner is a regular contributor to ESPNBoston.com.

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