By Dan Roche, WBZ-TV SportsBy Dan Roche

BOSTON (CBS) – After an emotional weekend at Fenway Park where what happened “off” the field mattered way more than what occurred “on” it, it was nice to see the Red Sox open up their series with the Oakland A’s with a victory.

Saturday was all about the touching Marathon bombings ceremony that had everyone in tears. The players were honored and excited to carry their “Boston Strong” motto as the healing process began for the entire city and beyond.

READ: Sox-A’s Recap

Sunday brought two losses as the Sox were swept by the Royals in a day-night doubleheader, but it still didn’t seem to matter much because of the horrific events of last week.

However, Monday night it was back to baseball and the Red Sox bats responded.

First, it was Will Middlebrooks, who I believe coined the phrase “Boston Strong”, breaking out of a 4-for-45 slump by delivering a three-run homer off A.J. Griffin. For Middlebrooks, it had to feel good. After all, he hadn’t been able to do much of anything since his three-home run game on April 7 in Toronto.

Next up, it was Mike Napoli. The new Sox first baseman continued his torrid April by notching a double, his fourth career grand slam, and five RBIs.

And check out these numbers as provided by the Red Sox PR staff:

  • His 25 RBIs match the most by a Sox in the team’s first 19 games of a season over the last 72 years since 1942. The only other to do it was Mo Vaughn in 1995.
  • Since 1916, no other Red Sox has notched both 25 RBIs and 14 extra-base hits in the team’s first 19 games of a season.
  • His 25 RBIs are the most by a Sox in April since Manny Ramirez had 25 in 2005 and the most by a Sox in any month since Adrian Gonzalez had 25 in June 2011.
  • Napoli has reached safely in each of his last 14 games, batting .339 (19-for-56) with nine doubles, one triple, three home runs, 22 RBIs, and 4 walks in that stretch. It is the third-longest career on-base streak, following a pair of 16-game runs from 5/4-28/07 and 7/14-8/5/11.

And how long will the “The Sox should have stuck with the 3-year, $39 million dollar deal they originally agreed to with him” line will be fired off on sports talk radio?

The Sox have Napoli for a one-year deal at $ 5 million, plus incentives that can get him up to $13 million. And, it’s a straight one-year deal. No options.

The other positives came on the mound. Felix Doubront with 6 2/3 solid innings and Andrew Bailey with his fourth save as the closer.

All good. And great to be focusing in on baseball while the city begins to heal.

Follow WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche on Twitter @RochieWBZ.


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