Entering Monday’s 5-1 win over the Texas Rangers, catcher A.J. Pierzynski had just two hits in 16 at-bats as a member of the Red Sox.
It had been a frustrating weekend for the Sox, who were swept by Milwaukee, with Pierzynski going 0 for 8 in the three-game set.
He busted out of his early troubles Monday, finishing 3 for 4 with two runs and helping the Sox build a 2-1 lead they never relinquished.
“It was nice to contribute something,” Pierzynski said. “Obviously it was a long week, a frustrating week, but it’s a new day every day. The good thing about baseball is you always get a chance either later in the game or the next day.”
Pierzynski’s aggressive approach at the plate doesn’t jibe with the Sox’ patient approach that was so prevalent last season, when they saw 4.01 pitches per plate appearance, higher than the league average of 3.86.
Entering Monday, Pierzynski had swung at the first pitch in 10 of 16 at-bats, and 14 at-bats had lasted three pitches or fewer.
Juxtapose that with the Sox’ ever-patient Mike Napoli, who drew a pair of 10-pitch walks in Friday’s 6-2 loss, and Pierzynski’s at-bats are over in a blink.
Manager John Farrell capitalized on Pierzynski’s aggressive approach Monday, calling for a hit-and-run in the second inning.
With one out and Xander Bogaerts on first after a single, Bogaerts broke for second on the first pitch and Pierzynski drove Tanner Scheppers’s outside pitch to left field. Shortstop Elvis Andrus was running to cover second base, leaving a big hole on the left side.
Bogaerts advanced to third easily and scored on a single by Jackie Bradley Jr.
“He’s an instinctual player,” Farrell said of Pierzynski. “We know he’s aggressive and we try to take advantage of that aggression when we can.”
Pierzynski was just looking to put the ball in play on the hit-and-run, but he was able to push it through the hole because of how far outside the pitch was.
“It was pretty far, I think it was a pitchout,” Pierzynski joked. “I’m just trying to put the ball in play, but you can’t really force the ball where to go. Luckily the pitch was way outside and I was able to hit it in a good spot.”
Pierzynski said he had previously talked with Farrell about executing the hit-and-run, and it helped him relax at the plate.
“I’m glad John put on the hit-and-run,” he said. “It let me relax and I knew I had to do something to help the team. John and I have talked about it and I told him if you want me to hit-and-run, or bunt, it’s about trying to help the team.
“I thought we had one in Baltimore but I missed the sign. But I’ll do whatever you need to do, just tell me, and it’s nice the manager has confidence in you to put a play on like that.”
In the fourth inning, Pierzynski saw four pitches and singled to center, and then went first to third on a single by Jonathan Herrera. Bradley followed with another single to score Pierzynski, breaking a 1-1 tie.
Pierzynski also went first to third on Bradley’s RBI single in the second inning. He scored in the eighth when first baseman Prince Fielder made a throwing error on a Bradley bunt.
“Going first to third two different times, he reads each play well and as we try to instill in every guy on the base paths, thinking in twos to get from first to third,” Farrell said.Anthony Gulizia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @gulizia_a