Middlebrooks continues scorching start

Top Red Sox prospect hits fifth three-run blast of season in win

By Sam Dykstra / Special to MLB.com | April 23, 2012 8:07 PM ET

Every batter will tell you he likes hitting with runners in scoring position. It's the best chance he will have to bring his teammates home and put runs on the board. Any hit that leaves the infield -- a single, a double, even a sacrifice fly -- will likely plate a run.

However, Will Middlebrooks seems like he'd much rather just hit a homer.

Boston's top prospect went 1-for-2 with a walk and hit a three-run shot in the fifth inning of Triple-A Pawtucket's 7-1 win in the nightcap of a home doubleheader with Durham.

The blast was Middlebrooks' fifth three-run homer of the year. With Monday's accomplishment, the PawSox's third baseman has more games in which he has hit a three-run homer (five) than games in which he has gone hitless (four).

MLB.com's No. 55 prospect is now hitting .476 (10-for-21) with runners in scoring position with five home runs and 22 RBIs over the first 18 games of the season. He owns a 1.760 OPS in such scenarios.

He is hitting .371 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in all situations and trails only Toledo's Brad Eldred (nine homers, 27 RBIs) for the International League lead in the latter two categories.

Middlebrooks' homerless game in the doubleheader opening -- a 2-0 Pawtucket win -- snapped a streak of four consecutive games with a round-tripper. In that four-game span, the Texas native went 9-for-18 with the four homers and 11 RBIs.

Pawtucket starter Aaron Cook (3-0) allowed one earned run on eight hits over seven innings for a complete game in the second game. Boston's No. 4 prospect Ryan Lavarnway doubled and scored once. The power-hitting catcher is riding a six-game hitting streak and is 14-for-40 (.350) over his last 10 games.

MLB.com's No. 74 prospect Chris Archer (1-3) allowed two earned runs over 5 1/3 innings in Game 1 of the doubleheader for Durham, but suffered his IL-leading third loss of the season.

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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