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Dalbec on homer history: 'It feels amazing'

Infielder has longest home run streak by Red Sox rookie
@IanMBrowne
September 8, 2020

Bobby Dalbec is getting an opportunity to show the Red Sox he belongs in the lineup next season and beyond, and he is crushing it. He is also crushing baseballs. The slugger mashed an impressive opposite-field two-run homer in the top of the sixth that snapped a tie and led

Bobby Dalbec is getting an opportunity to show the Red Sox he belongs in the lineup next season and beyond, and he is crushing it.

He is also crushing baseballs.

The slugger mashed an impressive opposite-field two-run homer in the top of the sixth that snapped a tie and led Boston to a 5-2 victory against the Phillies on Tuesday night in Game 2 of a seven-inning doubleheader to salvage a split at Citizens Bank Park.

Box score

Dalbec, who also went deep in the 6-5 loss in Game 1, has homered in four straight games. He is the first Red Sox rookie to accomplish that feat, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“It feels amazing. It’s crazy,” said Dalbec. “I would never think that I would have some crazy stat like that and my name to be in there, but I’m very fortunate to be in this position, so it’s awesome.”

The 25-year-old Dalbec has five home runs in the first nine games of his MLB career. The only other player in franchise history to match that accomplishment is Sam Horn, who did so in 1987.

While Horn was a cult hero for his imposing physique and early career success, he fizzled out. In Dalbec, Boston hopes it has a slugger with staying power.

“I’ve seen some great starts, but not the home runs like this,” said Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke. “So we talk about it, and that’s what we were hoping for. We talk about putting the ball in play more and he’s doing it, and [he] also got a big base hit for us, so that’s really fun to see. With all the things going on, it’s great to see a young guy start off like that.”

The Red Sox decided to call up Dalbec, their No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, on Aug. 30, the same day they traded Mitch Moreland to the Padres.

That was the day Dalbec came up and promptly drilled a homer in his MLB debut.

But then came a tough stretch in which Dalbec went 0-for-14 with nine strikeouts over the next four games.

From that hole, Dalbec bounced back with these last four games, in which he has hammered two homers to left and two to the opposite field.

“Yeah, it just means I’m seeing the ball well and I’m making a good plan, seeing the ball as early as I can and being aggressive on every pitch,” Dalbec said. “I’m swinging until my eyes tell me, 'No.' If I’m hitting the ball the other way, or with authority, then I know I’m right. Just got to keep grinding at it.”

The key to Dalbec’s four-homer streak? Work in the batting cage.

“So [assistant hitting coach] Pete [Fatse] and [hitting coach] Tim [Hyers] both had him in the cage and changed the leg kick,” said Roenicke. “He was doing a kind of toe-tap thing and they changed it to a higher leg kick, and maybe that’s the difference.”

Dalbec expressed other things that were just as responsible for breaking out of his first career slump.

“Just trying to use my lower body better and my back side better. I was kind of heavy on my front side and not really controlling it, which was allowing me to twist and miss pitches that I shouldn’t miss,” Dalbec said. “So it feels good just to be able to have a good routine right now and keep it rolling.”

There was also the switch in bats.

“Also, I started using Jackie Bradley’s bat ever since I hit those homers, so I think that’s got a lot to do with it, too,” said Dalbec.

What led Dalbec to start using JBJ’s bat?

“It just feels good. He was swinging a really good, hot bat," Dalbec said. "I picked it up in the cage one of the games I was sitting and couldn’t put it down, and just tried it out and it’s been going pretty well."

The home run that Dalbec blasted in Game 2 was eye-opening because his swing looked almost effortless. Yet he mashed the baseball with an exit velocity of 108.9 mph and sent it a projected distance of 408 feet.

“Even when he hit it, the sound wasn’t the same as other guys hit the ball, but you saw how far up that thing went -- it wasn’t even close [to staying in the park],” Roenicke said. “Just tremendous power. If he can continue to play good defense and make good contact, it’ll be fun to watch.”

While the home runs are nice -- and they’ve been plentiful so far -- Dalbec was just as pleased to hit Heath Hembree’s 1-0 slider into center for an RBI single that gave the Red Sox an insurance run in the sixth inning on Tuesday night. That was just the third of Dalbec’s eight hits that haven't left the ballpark.

“Yeah, it feels good,” Dalbec said. “I’m seeing the ball well, and Heath’s obviously a great pitcher, and I’m just trying to stick with my plan. Not trying to do too much, and I think sometimes, subconsciously, I’ll just be a little too big and swing too hard. I’m just trying to hone that back and have a very consistent approach and swing.”

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.