For seven years, the Arizona Diamondbacks were all Stephen Drew knew.
He was their first-round pick in 2004. He played 773 regular-season games for them, turning 447 double plays at shortstop.
The highs and lows came simultaneously. When the Diamondbacks won the NL West in 2011, Drew fractured his ankle and played only 86 games.
When he came back the next season, he played 40 games before being traded to Oakland. Just before they sent him out, Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick criticized Drew for coming back too slowly from the injury.
It’s been almost a year since the deal, but facing Arizona for the first time, Drew said, was strange.
“It’s different being over there for seven years, but they’ve got a good team and great guys over there,” he said. “But it is a little different.”
On a night when the Red Sox were buried by a player they let go, watching a vengeful Cody Ross go 4 for 5 with two doubles and a homer, Drew looked at his meeting with the Diamondbacks as “another game.”
Still, his 2-for-2, three-RBI day in the Red Sox’ 7-6 loss was less about revenge and more about rhythm.
Initially, after coming off the disabled list following the All-Star break, his strained right hamstring fully healed, Drew seemed to be searching at the plate, going 1 for his first 15.
But in his past seven games, he’s gone 9 for 25 with nine RBIs.
In the past 10 days, Drew hit the walkoff single in the Sox’ 15-inning win over the Mariners, drove in a career-high five RBIs against the Orioles, and hit three homers.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said he sees Drew getting more comfortable at the plate.
“His swing, he looks much more confident at the plate,” Farrell said. “Not just because he hit a home run tonight, but even some pitches last night that he just missed, there’s more authority to the swing.
“And as we’ve seen the couple times that he’s missed some time on the DL, as he gets those at-bats, he’s so much of a timing hitter and a rhythm hitter. He’s seeing the ball real well right now.”
Drew said he could sense himself finding a rhythm after hitting the ball hard but at fielders for a long stretch.
“Balls are falling where I’m hitting them and beforehand I was hitting line outs,” Drew said. “So it’s good. It’s a good feeling when you’re hitting the ball and things are going your way.’’
His two-run homer in the sixth inning tied the game and gave him eight for the season. But Ross came up the next inning and smacked a solo shot that ultimately decided the game.
“It was a good chance,” Drew said. “We put some good ABs together tonight and just came out on the short end. But we battled all night and that’s what it takes to win these kind of games.”