When a hitter gets on a hot streak, it creates a ripple effect in the lineup. If a player is consistently getting on base, not only will opposing pitchers adjust to the way they approach them, but also to the way they approach the hitter before and after them. With a streaky hitter on deck, a pitcher must throw more strikes to the batter, trying to get him to put the ball in play or strike out attempting to, while avoiding a walk at all costs. When streaky hitters get on base, which is the quality that defines a hot streak, a pitcher must throw from the “stretch” position as a method for keeping the runner from getting too good a jump in stealing a base. Most pitchers are less effective with these constraints, making it easier for the hitters to be successful.
Jonny Gomes and Will Middlebrooks are epitomizing this connection. They will most likely be hitting in both the 5th and 6th, or 6th and 7th spots in the lineup come opening day. Either way, they should bat one right after the other. Yesterday, with Will at third and Jonny in left field, they batted 6th and 7th respectively.
In the second inning, Middlebrooks knocked a two out double to left, to which Gomes followed with an RBI single to center that made it 1-0 Boston over Tampa Bay. In the fourth inning, there was more of the same. Again, with no one on base and two outs, Middlebrooks reached on a fielding error, from which he could advance to second. Gomes then stepped up belted a double to left; 2-0 Boston.
Finally, in the sixth inning, with one out and one on, Middlebrooks hit his second double. With a man now on second and third base, Gomes singled to left to pick up his third and fourth RBI of the game and put Boston up 4-0 in a game they would eventually win 5-1.
Hitting is much more of a team sport than people give it credit for, for these teammates, they wouldn’t want it any other way.