Commentary

Shane Victorino proving his worth

Updated: August 28, 2013, 2:12 AM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- The only thing Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino isn't doing these days is hitting from the left side.

A back issue and a left hamstring injury, which has forced the switch-hitter to bat exclusively from the right side, have bothered Victorino throughout the season, but that doesn't seem to be making much of a difference. He's been clobbering opposing pitchers lately.

On Tuesday, Victorino almost single-handedly beat the Baltimore Orioles into submission with a career-high, seven-RBI performance that led the Red Sox to a 13-2 win at Fenway Park. He reached base all five times he came to the plate and finished the night 3-for-3 with a pair of home runs, a double, four runs scored, a walk and hit by pitch.

[+] EnlargeShane Victorino
Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY SportsShane Victorino, who had two homers and seven RBIs Tuesday, is contributing in all aspects.

"He played great. He's been playing great all year," Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "The plays he makes in the outfield, I've never seen anything like it. Offensively, he's driving the ball. Anytime he gets on, he's creating a run with his speed. It's everything. He's hitting the ball out of the ballpark. He's playing great for us."

Victorino's home runs -- his 10th and 11th of the season -- gave him his second career multi-homer game. The other came when he was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies on July 12, 2008 at Arizona against the Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson.

It's also Victorino's seventh consecutive season with 10 or more home runs.

"I think at this point with 11 under his belt it's not sneaky anymore," Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes said of Victorino's power. "He's been around for a while. He's got a World Series ring on his finger. He's a championship-caliber player."

Since Victorino has played nearly an entire season with a sore hamstring and back, the numbers are almost secondary given his contributions. When asked to describe how much pain he's been playing through, he said, "That's for me to know, and you not to know. I just try to go out there every night and I'm going to play the way I feel. Go out there and give it all I can, leave it all on the field.

"I'm still working on getting back to the left side," he added. "I'm still a switch-hitter, that's what I was brought here to do. I'll take it one game at a time, continue to work and see how I feel."

Victorino became the first Red Sox player with seven RBIs in a game since J.D. Drew recorded seven on June 8, 2007 at Arizona.

Victorino's first home run of the night came in the bottom of the third inning. His one-out, two-run shot into the Monster seats gave Boston a 3-2 lead and was his 100th career home run.

"When I hit it, I was hoping it got to the wall," he said. "I know I hit it well but it was able to rise up over the wall, so that was great to get my 100th career homer there. All these individual accomplishments are great, but most importantly it's what we've done as a team and that's get a 'W' and keep plugging along and getting as many wins as we can. I'm not looking down the road, but all these games are important."

At the time when the Red Sox were looking to sign a corner outfielder last offseason, the idea of signing Victorino, who is a natural center fielder, was an intriguing one for general manager Ben Cherington. Given the vast landscape of right field at Fenway, having someone who can cover that much ground, especially one that's a switch-hitter, had some appeal.

When Victorino signed with Boston as a free agent for three years and $39 million, many questioned the club's decision to pay that much for the 32-year-old outfielder. But Victorino has been exactly the type of player on and off the field the Red Sox needed.

Producing the way he has feels good given all the offseason criticism.

"Very satisfying," Victorino said. "But I don't look at those kinds of things, I don't pay attention to those people. There are always going to be doubters, no matter what. You can't please everybody, but if I can go out there every night and do my best, come inside, look myself in the mirror and say I gave 100 percent, that's the only person I need to answer to.

"Everybody's going to have doubts. Everybody's going to have their opinion. Doubters will always be doubters. I'm going to keep plugging along, keep helping this team win and that's what I'm focused on."

Victorino wasn't the only one in the Red Sox lineup to produce Tuesday.

The first three batters in the order -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Victorino and Pedroia -- went a combined 9-for-13 with six extra-base hits, nine RBIs, eight runs scored, one walk and one hit by pitch.

"It was a very good offensive night up and down the lineup," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

Victorino is the type of teammate who would rather discuss the team's success than his own. He utters the cliché "one game at a time" more than any other veteran in the clubhouse, so when he talked about it time and again after Tuesday's win, it actually was believable. "Tonight I was the hero, had a good game, but tomorrow night who knows," Victorino said. "Knock on wood I have another good game, but tomorrow can be a whole different day."

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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