No choke in this Muddy Chicken: Pedroia snaps slump

Dustin Pedroia snapped an 0-for-16 slump with a two-run bomb last night against Seattle (Ted S. Warren/AP photo)

Jan-Christian Sorensen
Contributing Writer

It could be that Dustin Pedroia had an acute case of the Gin and Juice Blues — his mind on his money and his money on his mind.

A week ago the Boston Red Sox announced they had signed their indispensable second baseman to a $110 Million contract extension that will keep the 2008 American League MVP a fixture at the Fens through 2021.

Pedroia promptly showed his appreciation to the Boston Brass by embarking on a 1 for 20 slump.

Or maybe it wasn’t the money. Maybe it was just general midseason malaise. Pedroia came into the all-star break hitting .316 but has been mired in a 3 for 39 funk since his trip to the Midsummer Classic as an All-Star Reserve. His average on balls in play before the break? .348. Afterwards? .081.

Whatever the cause, Pedroia shook off the skid in dramatic fashion against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night. In the second inning he fouled five of nine total pitches off starter Joe Saunders before launching a bomb up and over the Green Monster, allowing NESN play-by-play maestro Don Orsillo to trot out his trademark “La Luna!” home-run call for Pedroia for the first time since July 9 when he went deep, coincidentally, against Seattle.

Pedroia’s seventh homer of the season cashed in his 59th and 60th RBI and gave Boston a 5-1 lead.

In the fourth inning, Pedroia was on it again, stroking a single to center to drive in Shane Victorino for Boston’s sixth run and his third RBI of the night.

“Just keep plugging away,” Pedroia said, after the game. “You go through streaks where you don’t feel well or you hit the ball at people so you’ve just got to keep going.”

The diminutive spark plug and undisputed heart and soul of the Olde Towne Team, Pedroia could have easily chalked up his recent struggles to injury — he’s been playing through a complete tear of his ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb since he slid into first base at Yankee Stadium on opening day — but that’s not his style.

“Pedey’s such a professional that as a teammate, you know it’s going to happen,” said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who broke out of a slump of his own Tuesday, hitting his first homer since June 9.

“For him, it’s probably a little frustrating, but it’s nothing he’s not done before. I know personally, two years ago, I was hitting the ball right at people. But, you know, that’s a better feeling than being kind of lost up there, and he’s never lost.”

Salty speaks the truth — despite his slide, in his last ten games, Pedroia has only struck out three times in 40 at-bats.

But that’s who he is. A digger. A grinder. A guy who’s only missed one of Boston’s 108 games to date in 2013.

Call him by whatever handle you like — Pedey. Laser Show. Muddy Chicken.

Just don’t call him a quitter.

Twitter: @jan_doh