ST. PETERSBURG -- Mentioning Pedro Ciriaco and Ty Cobb in the same sentence might be considered baseball blasphemy to some, but Boston's fill-in second baseman earned the distinction with his play as of late.
Ciriaco went 0-for-4 in his Red Sox debut last Saturday, then recorded at least three hits in his last three games while also stealing a base in each contest. He's the first Red Sox player ever with at least three hits and a stolen base in three straight games and the first Major Leaguer to do that since Johnny Damon in 2000. And the only player to ever do that in four straight games is, yes, Ty Cobb in September 1927.
"He is hot," manager Bobby Valentine said. "That's more than hot, isn't it?"
Ciriaco has only played 35 Major League games between Pittsburgh (2010-11) and Boston, but he's hitting .418 (23-for-55) in that time, giving him the second-best average in a player's first 35 games, with a minimum of 50 at-bats. John Kroner hit .422 (43-for-102) for the Red Sox from 1935-36.
In addition to his unusual statistical accomplishments, Ciriaco has earned praise from his teammates and the respect of opposing clubs.
"He did a nice job. He's very fast. We've seen him in Spring Training before," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We've always kind of liked him from a distance. He's very athletic. He does know how to bunt. Right now, he's being a pain in the butt -- to their advantage and to our detriment.
"He plays with a lot of energy. He's an interesting player, no question."