Lefty-swinging Conor Gillaspie enjoys a power surge at friendly Fenway
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter July 10, 2014 10:07PM
Updated: August 12, 2014 6:35AM
BOSTON — Conor Gillaspie has this thing for the Pesky Pole at Fenway Park.
Gillaspie’s pinch home run against closer Koji Uehara inside the storied right-field pole forced extra innings Thursday, the second time he took one out to the short side of the field in this series. He wrapped those two around a 420-foot plus blast to center field Wednesday, giving him homers in three consecutive games at Fenway and four in his last 24 at-bats.
He had started the season without a homer in 224 at-bats, a year after hitting 13 as a rookie. A left-handed hitter, Gillaspie is batting .323 after hitting .245 last season, so the homers were of little concern to him.
“He has a pretty simplistic approach,’’ hitting coach Todd Steverson said, who suspects some recent starts against left-handers might have put him in a mini-slump that he has since exploded out of. “He’s a helluva hitter.’’
Flirting with perfection
Jose Quintana was cruising with five perfect innings that extended his scoreless innings streak to 20 1/3 before opening the sixth with walks to the Red Sox’ No. 8 and 9 hitters, Stephen Drew and David Ross. Jackie Bradley singled in a run and David Ortiz, with first base open and two outs, hit a two-run double.
“He could have [pitched around him],’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “You definitely don’t want to give him something out over the plate, he just left it up there.’’
Quintana (3.24 ERA) has allowed three earned runs or less in 16 of his 19 starts. After Ortiz’ double, Quintana retired the last four hitters he faced.
“He’s starting to just jump ahead [in counts],’’ Ventura said. “You see the way guys take their at-bats off him. He used to be cutter, cutter, cutter now he’s using both sides of the plate and using his fastball better.’’
Beckham, Flowers struggle
Gordon Beckham sunk deeper into a slump, going 0-for-4 before laying down a successful sacrifice bunt in the 10th inning. The bunt put Adam Eaton on second, but it invited the Red Sox to intentionally walk Jose Abreu, and Red Sox lefty Andrew Miller worked out of the jam by getting Dayan Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez to tap back to the mound.
Had Beckham been going better, Ventura might have left his No. 2 hitter swing and also give Abreu a shot, but the Sox second baseman is 1-for-30 in his last seven games and is hitting .131 in his last 26 games. Beckham struck out his first three times up against lefty Jon Lester.
“It can get real mental when you’re not going well,’’ Steverson said, speaking in general terms about Beckham and Tyler Flowers, who is 10-for-108 (.093) over his last 33 games. “You have to step back for a minute and realize, ‘What am I doing to myself sometimes.’ Eventually you have to have a plan.’’
This and that
Red Sox starter Jon Lester struck out 12 and walked none.
◆ Conor Gillaspie’s homer was the Sox’ 18th in the last 13 games.
◆ Jose Abreu, who went 2-for-4 with a double to raise his average to .287, alertly picked up his first stolen base when he took third on catcher David Ross’ pickoff attempt of Alexei Ramirez at first.