- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Forget the Laser Show.
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has a new nickname: the Muddy Chicken.
After Boston’s 1-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in 16 innings Sunday night/Monday morning at Tropicana Field, every Red Sox player kept yelling “Muddy Chicken” in the clubhouse.
Pedroia delivered the winning RBI single in the top of the 16th inning. He also made two tremendous defensive plays earlier in the game.
“We don’t know his real name anymore. He is now the Muddy Chicken,” Sox starter Josh Beckett said. “The Muddy Chicken is definitely the player of the game. He got it done when we absolutely needed it.”
Pedroia continues to be locked in at the plate, extending his season-high hitting streak to 15 games. He finished the night 3-for-7 and is hitting .384 (25-for-65) during the streak.
“I wouldn’t trade Pedey for anybody in the league right now,” David Ortiz said.
Not only is Pedroia excelling at the plate, he’s playing even better defensively.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, he robbed the Rays’ Casey Kotchman of a possible base hit. Kotchman lined a hard grounder up the middle, but Pedroia ranged to his right, made a diving stop, quickly got to his feet and made a strong throw for the out to end the inning.
He did it again in the sixth on a similar play, this time taking a possible hit away from Tampa shortstop Reid Brignac. Brignac had robbed Pedroia of a hit with a highlight-reel play in the top of the inning.
As the game dragged on, when Pedroia stepped to the plate in the 16th, even Red Sox manager Terry Francona had a feeling the Muddy Chicken would deliver.
“By that time, it’s not just physical. It’s mentally draining and he’s probably the one guy you know who will figure out a way,” Francona said.
As the Red Sox quickly packed their bags for Baltimore, the Muddy Chicken said he has no idea how, or who, created the name.
“It sounds awesome, though, doesn’t it?” he said.