08/18/12 9:45 PM ET
Ciriaco quickly emerging as thorn in Yanks' side
By Evan Drellich / MLB.com
The 26-year-old utility man collected his second career four-hit game against New York in Saturday's 4-1 Sox win. That made him the first Boston player since Wade Boggs in 1989 to have at least a pair of four-hit games against the Bombers in one year.
"I enjoy every time I'm in the lineup, and it doesn't matter what team [we're facing]," Ciriaco said. "But you know when we play against the Yankees, it's like [the playoffs]."
Ciriaco, who has played just 66 Major League games in three seasons, has never had a four-hit game against another team. He started at shortstop on Saturday and went 4-for-4 with a double and a bunt hit, bringing his average against the Yankees to .517 (15-for-29) in seven games, all this year. Among players with a minimum of 25 plate appearances against the Yanks, only Barry Bonds (.533, 8-for-15) has a higher lifetime average.
"I feel like any part of the plate we throw the ball at, he's getting the bat on it and getting a hit," said David Phelps, the Yankees' starting pitcher on Saturday. "He bunts, and it's a perfect bunt. The guy's on fire against us."
Ciriaco also has nine runs scored, three doubles and seven RBIs against New York. That level of success makes his numbers against the rest of the league this year look pedestrian: In 28 games against the rest of baseball, Ciriaco is hitting .276 (21-for-76) with four runs, four doubles and five RBIs.
"He's gotten us all year long," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's unbelievable."
"You think [the Yankees are] going to try to trade for him if he clears waivers?" Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "He's played well against them. A bunt for a base hit, a hit-and-run double; a stolen base; a curvebvall to right field; a base hit to center field on a fastball -- that's a good day."
Ciriaco said he was getting good pitches to hit and that it was important to play well against an American League East foe, but he did not contend he was elevating his game because of the Sox-Yanks rivalry. Not that he isn't aware of it.
"Everybody knows Yankees and Boston, how they play when they play each other," said Ciriaco, who also had four hits against the Yankees on July 7.
Ciriaco, who has played six positions this season, is hitting .343 in 109 plate appearances and 35 games.
"I think he's a good hitter," teammate Mike Aviles said. "It just so happens he's playing really well against the Yankees. Not many do that, but he actually is a good hitter. If you're around him enough, it wouldn't surprise you."