There’s plenty of reasons why the Red Sox lead the majors in runs scored.
There’s Jose Iglesias, the baby-faced 23-year-old inserted into the lineup out of necessity. He’s making his case as a must-watch, must-play rookie with his 12-game hitting streak and his .443 average this season.
There’s David Ortiz, the flashy slugger. One of the biggest sports celebrities in town — Big Papi received monstrous cheers when he was shown on the Jumbotron at Game 4 of the Bruins-Penguins game — has hit 12 homers since beginning his season April 20.
Then there’s Dustin Pedroia, a guy who has contributed something in just about every game this season.
He was 2 for 4 with two RBIs in the Red Sox’ 7-2 win over the Angels on Saturday night. Pedroia — who was 2 for 4 in the first game of the doubleheader, as well — has also hit safely in 12 straight games, going .340 over that stretch and .335 for the year.
Perhaps he flies under the radar because the 29-year-old is a career .304 hitter. Plus, he has already hit in 12 straight earlier this season. Two years ago, he hit in 25 straight.
Or maybe it’s because he’s also known for his defense (two Gold Gloves) and the ubiquitous dirt on his uniform.
“Not many second basemen win MVPs,” Jonny Gomes said. “So that’s what type of player we’re talking about. He can do it all.”
So this current offensive outburst might be somewhat overshadowed. But it’s not unnoticed.
“I don’t think it’s been unnoticed in here at all,” said Gomes, his voice very stern. “He doesn’t strike out. [He] swings at good pitches. I mean, he makes it look easy, but inside here we know it’s tough.”
It’s tough to grind out at-bats. It’s tough to hit when you are behind in the count. But that’s what Pedroia does consistently.
In 31 at-bats this season, Pedroia has fallen behind in an 0-and-2 count. He has hit .419 in those situations. In the 44 times he has worked a full count, he has hit .407 from there, with nine RBIs, 17 walks, and only five strikeouts.
“When he’s down 0-2, it’s never over with him,” Gomes said.
But his durability (he’s played in all 63 games this season) and dependability (he’s reached base safely in 58 of those games, including the last 17) have been clutch for these Sox, whose youth were offseason question marks.
“There are countless things that he does inside the course of a game,” manager John Farrell said. “Defensively he’s as good as there is in the game right now. He gets a big hit for an RBI late in the game. He has played at an elite level from opening day on and he means an awful lot to us.”
It’s something not taken for granted. Especially to those who aren’t used to seeing it on a day-to-day basis.
Backup catcher David Ross is playing for his sixth major league team.
“And I tell [Pedroia] every time he makes a big play [how important it is], I tell him every time he makes a big hit,” Ross said. “I would like for my teammates to respect that and recognize how hard what he does is. And I tell him every time I can.”
When reporters asked Ross his perspective on Ortiz’s latest home run — a two-run blast more than 10 rows deep in right field in the sixth — Ross said he was in awe. But then the catcher couldn’t help but bring up Pedroia.
“The best at-bat of the day was that Pedroia at-bat before that to set it up,” Ross said of an RBI single to right that gave the Sox a 5-2 lead.
“I mean that guy seems to get through in any situation.”
Year after year, streak after streak.Emily Kaplan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @emilymkaplan.