Boston rookie Bobby Dalbec hasn’t reached legendary status, but he’s a bright spot and building block in a bad season for the Red Sox.
The 25-year-old infielder has been on a rampage at the plate since being called up after the organization traded Mitch Moreland to the San Diego Padres on Aug. 30.
It’s the kind of performance that has had baseball statisticians poring over the record book.
Before Thursday night’s series opener in St. Petersburg, Fla., against the American League East-leading Tampa Bay Rays, Dalbec had homered in four straight games, including long balls in both ends of a doubleheader on Tuesday, to become the first Boston rookie to have a four-game homer streak in the opening nine games of his MLB career.
He joined Minnesota’s Graig Nettles (1968) and Colorado’s Trevor Story (2016) as the only players in the modern era to do it.
Dalbec was back at it again Thursday in Boston’s 4-3 win over the Rays, blasting an opposite-field shot that gave him has six homers in 10 contests.
“It’s pretty cool seeing Bobby come up here and do this,” said manager Ron Roenicke. “It’s pretty amazing, actually.”
Dalbec, a former University of Arizona standout, also became part of a small group of seven record-setters who homered five times in their first nine MLB games, including former Boston slugger Sam Horn in 1987.
The Red Sox (16-29) and Rays (28-16) resume their four-game series Friday night.
Boston right-hander Andrew Triggs (0-2, 9.95) will serve as the opener Friday in his second time in the role. He is 0-1 with a 14.29 ERA in two career appearances (one start) against the Rays.
Tampa Bay will counter with Blake Snell (3-1, 3.74), who was very ineffective in his last outing — a 7-3 loss to the Miami Marlins on Saturday — and will be looking to rebound from his worst start of 2020.
The left-hander allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits in five innings. He struck out eight but walked three, and surrendered a homer to Miami’s Corey Dickerson, a former teammate of Snell’s with the Rays in 2016 and 2017.
The long ball has been a problem — Snell has given up six in his last four starts, covering 20 2/3 innings. In that span, his ERA has risen from 2.08 to 3.74.
Snell beat the Red Sox for his first win this season with five shutout innings on Aug. 12 in Boston — a 9-5 victory. He is 6-3 with a sparkling 2.83 ERA in 11 career starts against the Red Sox.
With some of the uncertainty around the Rays’ starting rotation, manager Kevin Cash could see Snell — the 2018 Cy Young Award winner — play a much more prominent role with the postseason less than a month away.
Starters Charlie Morton and Ryan Yarbrough have recently come back from injuries, and their return to form — Morton is a two-time All-Star, Yarbrough is 27-15 in his three-year career — could be key.
The right-handed Morton is trying to build up his pitch count to peak form before the playoffs open. Yarbrough started Tuesday’s loss in Washington and “didn’t look himself,” Cash said.
“I don’t think he had his best command,” Cash said of Yarbrough, who had not started since Aug. 28 because of a groin injury.
“He missed some spots, and they made him pay for it. They drove his pitch-count way up, but they didn’t knock the cover off the ball,” Cash said.
–Field Level Media