Sunday, July 17, 2011

Despite inconsistent presence, Thomas consistently chipping in

So far as his official game log is concerned, PawSox infielder Tony Thomas is on a hot streak.

The run may be interspersed with a brief demotion, a little time on the disabled list, a league-wide respite, and one night off to make room for a rehabbing Major Leaguer in the lineup. Nonetheless, the fact is that Thomas has logged nine hits over his last seven games with Pawtucket.

Most recently, amidst a pair of muggings at the hands of the Durham Bulls, who charged up 24 runs in a span of two victories at McCoy Stadium, Thomas has stood out as one of Pawtucket’s few positives. He was one of only two home hitters, along with No. 9-slotted hitter Ronald Bermudez, to record a multi-hit game on both Saturday and Sunday.

When the rest of the PawSox were symptomatic of a hangover in the wake of Saturday’s slugfest, Thomas looked more like one of those volcanic Durham batters who roughed up the host pitching staff in Sunday’s 13-3 drubbing.

With a pair of doubles Sunday, Thomas tied the recently barren Daniel Nava for second on the team with 16 two-baggers on the year. Only Lars Anderson (21) has hit more doubles for the PawSox.

He also proved instrumental in all three of the PawSox scoring plays, which occurred at points when the game was still a legitimate contest. After the Bulls nabbed an initial 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth, Thomas drew a two-out walk in the bottom half, transferred to second on Brent Dlugach’s single, then came home to put the Sox on the board with the help of Bermudez’s single.

Two innings later, now faced with a 4-1 deficit, Thomas sent Nate Spears home from first with a distant double to left field. Two plays later, Bermudez gave him the OK to finish the trek and pull the PawSox to within a run.

It was not unlike Saturday’s epic fourth inning. The Bulls had usurped the lead and run up a 7-1 pothole in the top half and dared Thomas to kindle a comeback as he led off the bottom.

As it happened, Thomas singled to left and ultimately scored ahead of a Bermudez single for the first of six Pawtucket runs in the inning.

The PawSox batted around whilst drawing the 7-7 knot, allowing Thomas to lead off the fifth. All he did there was double to left and advance to third on a Dlugach single.

Regrettably for Thomas, after Bermudez walked to load the bases, he was cut down by a defiant Durham defense as Che-Hsuan Lin grounded into a fielder’s choice that denied Pawtucket its bid to regain the upper hand.

That aside, Thomas’ opportunism translated unmistakably to the last two box scores of this weekend. He clearly had some carbonation in him after a shoulder injury sustained July 2 kept him on the sidelines through the All-Star Break. And probably more so after the Bulls held him hitless in his return on Thursday, and after he was benched in favor of the multifaceted Nate Spears so Carl Crawford could make his first rehab start on Friday.

Even before his ailment, Thomas had abundant cause for determination. In three games over the first weekend of July, he let that translate to three hits, three stolen bases and a run-scored.

The root of that incentive? Most educated guessers would point to the six games and 16 days he spent with Double-A Portland. That initial transaction on June 14 was only two days after he had logged a not-so-shabby performance against Charlotte with two hits, including a double, and a stolen base.

That was precisely five weeks to the date, yet only six Triple-A appearances ago for Thomas.

He would not have another multi-hit game or multi-base hit with the PawSox until Saturday. But he has suddenly pulled off both feats two days in a row.

With that, dating back to that Charlotte game, he has hit .375 with four extra-base hits and four runs-scored in a span of seven appearances.

For at least one man, a few breathers and changes of scenery have been anything but speedbumps.