PHOENIX -- It was a breakout night for J.D. Drew on Friday, just when the Red Sox needed it most. With David Ortiz at first base, Kevin Youkilis on the bench and the pitcher hitting for himself per National League rules against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field, the normally stocked Red Sox offense had to have the extra boost. The heretofore missing-in-action Drew provided it with a pair of three-run homers, an RBI double and seven runs batted in as Boston pulverized Arizona, 10-3.
"It was a fun night, a good night for me," Drew said. "One of those nights I've been needing to have for a long time now." To illustrate how much Drew did need it, he came in hitting .162 (19-for-117) with no homers and nine RBIs in his previous 35 games. He hadn't homered since April 22 when the Red Sox hit four in a row against the Yankees at Fenway Park and Drew was the second batter in that sequence. On Friday night, Drew looked more like the player the Red Sox signed to a five-year, $70 million free-agent contract this past winter. Asked the difference in Drew's hitting approach against the D-backs, Boston manager Terry Francona said it was matter of being more patient at the plate. "He stayed back on the ball and covered the plate," Francona said. "He's been working hard. We gave him a couple of days off to work on some things. Hopefully he stays hot, because he's an important guy in our lineup." Important? It was the first Interleague game on the road for the Red Sox this season, leaving Francona without the designated hitter spot and too many potent offensive players to fit into the top eight lineup positions. On Friday night, the choice was benching regular first baseman Youkilis (.339, eight homers, 32 RBIs) to play Ortiz (.337, 11 homers, 42 RBIs) at first base for the first time since last June. Mike Lowell (.313, 11 homers, 42 RBIs) started at third base, but he'll be subbed there on Saturday by Youkilis. Asked before the game why he chose Ortiz over Youkilis, Francona looked at the questioner cross-eyed. "[Ortiz] is like the MVP of the league right now," Francona said. The left-handed Ortiz will rest on Sunday, though, against left-hander Randy Johnson with Lowell back at third and Youkilis at first. What's a manager to do?
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.