Bobby Dalbec breaks out of slump with 3-run home run as Red Sox open series against Orioles with 6-2 win

Bobby Dalbec came into Friday’s game against the Orioles in the midst of an 0-for-27 slump at the plate having not recorded a hit since April 27.

In his first at-bat of the night, Dalbec ripped a one-out single to left field in the top half of the third inning.

An inning later, the 26-year-old then clubbed a 399-foot three-run home run in that same direction off Orioles starter Matt Harvey to give his side a 4-0 lead.

The Red Sox ultimately topped the O’s by a final score of 6-2 at Camden Yards on Friday to improve to 20-13 on the season and become the first team this year to reach the 20-win mark.

Rodriguez goes five innings

Eduardo Rodriguez made his sixth start of the season — and second against Baltimore — for Boston in this one. The left-hander surrendered just one run, though he did scatter seven hits and three walks to go along with a season-low two strikeouts over five innings of work.

The one run Rodriguez gave up in his final frame of work, when he allowed three straight hitters to reach base on a double, walk, and RBI single from Trey Mancini. He did manage to retire the last two Orioles he faced to hold them at one run.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 91 (61 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler turned to his changeup 31% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing three swings-and-misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 92.8 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 19 times.

Able to improve to a perfect 5-0 on the season while lowering his ERA to 3.82, Rodriguez’s next start should come against the Athletics back at Fenway Park on Wednesday.

Sawamura’s homer troubles continue

In relief of Rodriguez, Hirokazu Sawamura got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the middle of the sixth inning.

The right-hander served up a leadoff home run to Ryan Mountcastle to cut Boston’s lead to two runs at 4-2 before sitting down the next three hitters he faced in order.

Sawamura has now allowed at least one homer in two of his last four appearances and has seen his ERA on the season inflate up to 3.77 as a result.

Whitlock bounces back with two scoreless frames

On the flip side of Sawamura’s struggles, Rule 5 pick Garrett Whitlock bounced back from back-to-back poor outings against the Rangers and Tigers by tossing two scoreless innings of relief against the Orioles on Friday.

Renroe takes advantage of O’s sloppy defense, gets Sox on the board in the fourth

Before Dalbec went deep in the fourth, Hunter Renfroe provided Boston with an early 1-0 lead by driving in Rafael Devers from third on an RBI single off Harvey.

Devers had reached base — and advanced to second — in the first place on a missed catch error committed by the Orioles starter. He then stole third base to make it even easier for Renfroe to pick up his 15th RBI of the season.

Vazquez, Gonzalez provide late-inning insurance

With a 4-2 lead already in hand, the Sox tacked on two additional runs on a pair of run-scoring doubles from the likes of Christian Vazquez and Marwin Gonzalez in the eighth and ninth innings to make it a 6-2 contest.

This in turn, allowed Boston to rest closer Matt Barnes another day and deploy Phillips Valdez for the bottom half of the ninth.

Valdez closes it out

Valdez, making his second relied appearance in as many days after not appearing in a game for nearly two weeks, stranded the one hitter he allowed to reach base in an otherwise perfect inning to secure the 6-2 victory for his side.

Rain delay leads to late start

Friday’s game between the Sox and Orioles did not start until 8:43 p.m. eastern time due to a one-hour and 38 minute rain delay. The final out was not recorded until after midnight.

Next up: Richards vs. Lowther

Next up for the Red Sox, they will send right-hander Garrett Richards to the mound Saturday night to face off against left-hander Zac Lowther for Baltimore.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec and Co.: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Tanner Houck fans 8 over 5 strong innings, but Red Sox go down quietly to Orioles, 4-2, to begin year 0-2

For the second consecutive day, the Red Sox failed to capitalize on a strong outing from their starter as they dropped their second straight to the Orioles by a final score of 4-2 on Saturday afternoon.

Tanner Houck was that starter for the Sox in this one, and the right-hander impressed in his 2021 debut by yielding three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts over five innings of work.

The first two of those three Baltimore runs came in to score in the top half of the fourth, when after retiring 11 of the first 13 hitters he faced, Houck issued a two-out walk to Rio Ruiz, which was followed by a single from Austin Hays that put runners on the corners due to a Rafael Devers throwing error.

Kevin Plawecki, catching in place of Christian Vazquez on Saturday, then proceeded to allow a passed ball by him, and Maikel Franco took full advantage of that by ripping a two-run single through the left side of the infield to get his side on the board first.

An inning later, more sloppy defense from the Sox infielders did them no favors, as Xander Bogaerts struggled to field a two-out ground ball off the bat of Anthony Santander that in turn allowed Pedro Severino to score from third to make it a 3-0 contest.

Houck managed to fan the final man he faced in fellow rookie sensation Ryan Mountcastle on five pitches to retire the side, but the damage had already been done.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 85 (54 strikes), the 24-year-old hurler turned to his slider and four-seam fastball a combined 76% of the time he was on the mound Saturday. He induced six swings-and-misses with his slider and topped out at 94.7 mph with his four-seamer.

Ultimately hit with his first career losing decision despite the strong showing, Houck’s next start for Boston might not come for a while seeing how he was filling in for Eduardo Rodriguez in this one.

In relief of Houck, Austin Brice got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen and tossed a scoreless sixth inning, while left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez surrendered one run on two hits in the seventh and Phillips Valdez worked two perfect frames in the eighth and ninth in what was his 2021 debut.

All in all, the Sox pitching staff had themselves another decent day, but their lineup — in addition to their defense — did them no favors.

Coming off an Opening Day loss in which they were held to one hit by O’s starter John Means, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran right-hander Matt Harvey on Friday.

Like Means, Harvey was solid to start things out in this one as he stranded just a pair of base runners through his first three innings of the afternoon.

Unlike Means, though, the 32-year-old hurler finally cracked in the bottom half of the fourth when a sacrifice fly from Marwin Gonzalez brought in J.D. Martinez from third to plate Boston’s first run of the contest — and the new season — to cut their deficit in half at 2-1.

Martinez came through once more in his next trip to the plate an inning later, as the slugger managed to drive in Plawecki all the way from second base on an infield RBI single.

Martinez’s first run-scoring knock of the year brought Boston back to within one run of Baltimore at 3-2, but two runs was all they could manage the rest of the way despite making things interesting in the ninth. 4-2 would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox are off to an 0-2 start for the first time since 2012. They went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position on Saturday and are being outscored by an average score of 3.5 to 1 thus far.

J.D. Martinez has collected four hits through his first two starts of the season. Bobby Dalbec, meanwhile, has struck out four times through his first two starts of the season.

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game weekend set on Sunday.

Right-hander Garrett Richards will be making his Sox debut after signing a one-year, $10 million deal with the club in February. He will be opposed by Orioles rookie left-hander and Baltimore native Bruce Zimmermann.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Red Sox will once again be going for their first win of the season.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)