Red Sox to take on Orioles in 2022 MLB Little League Classic in Williamsport

The Red Sox will take on the Orioles in the 2022 MLB Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pa. next summer, Major League Baseball announced on Sunday evening.

The 2022 Little League Classic, which will take place at Bowman Field (the home of the MLB Draft League’s Williamsport Crosscutters) and be centered around the Little League World Series, will serve as the finale of a three-game weekend series between the Sox and O’s that will begin at Camden Yards on Friday, August 19 before moving over to Williamsport on the night of Sunday, August 21.

Boston and Baltimore were originally slated to become the first two American League clubs to face off in the Little League Classic last summer, but that wound up getting cancelled along with the 2020 Little League World Series on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of that cancellation, the Angels and Indians will become the first American League teams to play one another in the fourth installment of the Little League Classic on Sunday night, though the Red Sox and Orioles will get their chance next year.

Originally beginning in 2017 with the Pittsburgh Pirates hosting the St. Louis Cardinals, the Little League Classic has become a hallmark event on the league’s calendar that “reinforces MLB’s commitment to youth baseball and its young fans throughout the world” while also being “part of a larger initiative that launched five years ago with the introduction of MLB’s signature Play Ball initiative,” per MLB.com.

While the 2022 Little League Classic is still nearly a full year away, it should be interesting to see how the Red Sox and Orioles make alterations to their uniforms for that particular contest. We will have to wait and see on that.

(Picture of Bowman Field: Elsa/Getty Images)

Martín Pérez tosses 5 solid innings, but Red Sox are limited to just 4 hits in 4-1 loss to Orioles

After taking the first three games of their four-game series against the Orioles in Baltimore, the Red Sox were unable to come away with the series sweep following a 4-1 loss at Camden Yards on Monday.

Martin Perez made his seventh start of the season for Boston and was impressive, allowing just one run on four hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts over five innings of work.

The one run Perez gave up came on a leadoff home run off the bat of Ryan Mountcastle to begin things in the second inning.

Outside of that, Perez held the O’s in check and retired nine of the last 11 hitters he faced going into the end of the fifth.

At that point, the 30-year-old had thrown just 74 pitches (53 strikes) through five one-run innings. But with the middle of Baltimore’s lineup — including Mountcastle — due to hit in the sixth, Red Sox manager Alex Cora decided to pull Perez, who lowered his ERA on the season to 4.01, in favor of right-hander Matt Andriese.

That decision would prove to haunt Cora almost immediately, as Andriese served up a solo homer to the very first hitter he saw in Trey Mancini, whose seventh big fly of the season gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead.

In the eighth, Andriese induced a pop fly off the bat of Cedric Mullins, but because the Red Sox were playing in a shift and had third baseman Rafael Devers playing in in the event of a bunt, that pop fly wound up going for a 70.7 mph, 161-foot triple that Xander Bogaerts was unable to come up with cleanly.

Mullins came into score on an RBI single from Mancini, and the Orioles tacked on yet another run to their lead on a sacrifice fly to make it a 4-1 game.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Orioles right-hander Jorge Lopez, someone they got to for seven runs on eight hits last month.

This time around, however, Lopez proved to be a much tougher opponent considering he held Boston to one run — a Devers sacrifice fly — over five innings on Monday.

The Sox had the chance to add to their run total in Lopez’s final frame of work when Hunter Renfroe blistered a leadoff double to the opposite field in the top half of the fifth.

A slumping Franchy Cordero was able to advance Renfroe 90 feet on a groundout, but neither Bobby Dalbec nor Marwin Gonzalez could do anything from there as they both went down swinging to end the inning and strand the runner at third.

All in all, the Red Sox collected just four hits as a team on Monday and went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position while leaving four runners on base.

Boston is now 6-1 at Camden Yards this season as their four-game winning streak was snapped.

Next up: Welcoming in the A’s

The 22-14 Red Sox will head back to Boston and welcome the 21-15 first-place Athletics into town for the first of a three-game series at Fenway Park Tuesday night.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will get the ball for Boston in the opener, and he will be opposed by fellow righty Chris Bassitt for Oakland.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Martin Perez: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Rafael Devers and Hunter Renfroe power Red Sox to 4-3 win over Orioles

Rafael Devers enjoys swinging the bat at Camden Yards in Baltimore. That’s really no secret, and Devers showed why on Sunday afternoon.

After his side fell behind a run in the bottom of the first, Devers launched a 423-foot solo shot with an exit velocity of 110.7 mph off the bat to dead center field against right-hander Dean Kremer to knot things up at 1-1.

Later on in the sixth, Devers came through once again, this time coming up with the bases loaded and driving in a pair on another hard-hit (106.7 mph exit velocity), go-ahead two-run double to right-center field.

Devers accounted for three of the four runs the Red Sox scored against the Orioles that saw them improve to 22-13 on the season following a 4-3 victory on Mother’s Day.

Renfroe’s hot May continues

The only other Red Sox hitter who contributed to the cause offensively in this one was Hunter Renfroe.

The slugging outfielder provided what would turn out to be some much-needed insurance in the top half of the eighth by crushing a booming solo home run off Cole Sulser to give Boston a 4-2 lead.

Renfroe’s fourth home run of the season traveled 453 feet off his bat and had an exit velocity of over 113 mph, making it the second hardest-hit ball by a Red Sox this season.

He also made an impressive leaping catch to rob Cedric Mullins of extra bases in the bottom of the first inning.

Through eight games this month, the 29-year-old is hitting .314 (11-for-35) with three homers, nine RBI, and seven runs scored.

Pivetta allows two runs over six solid innings

Nick Pivetta made his seventh start of the season for Boston on Sunday. The right-hander allowed two runs — both of which were earned — on three hits and three walks to go along with two strikeouts over six innings of work.

The first of those Orioles runs came right away in the bottom of the first, which proved to be somewhat of a grind for Pivetta considering the fact that the needed 30 pitches to get through the inning.

He walked back-to-back hitters with two outs in the first before yielding an RBI single to Ryan Mountcastle.

In the fifth, more two-out trouble arose for Pivetta, this time serving up a 384-foot solo blast to Mullins which at the time gave Baltimore a 2-1 lead.

Pivetta did manage to retire four of the last five Orioles he faced, though, and his day came to an end once as he recorded the final out of the sixth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 103 (72 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 49% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing three swings-and-misses while topping out at 97 mph with the pitch.

Able to improve to a perfect 5-0 on the season and lower his ERA to 3.19, Pivetta’s next start should come against the Angels back at Fenway Park on Friday.

Bullpen closes it out

In relief of Pivetta, left-hander Josh Taylor got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the middle of the seventh inning.

Taylor walked the first man he faced, but erased that by getting Rio Ruiz to line into a 4-3 double play. He then walked another batter before fanning Mullins on five pitches to retire the side.

From there, Adam Ottavino plunked the first batter he faced in the eighth and allowed said batter to score on an RBI double off the bat of Mountcastle, which cut Boston’s lead to one run at 4-3.

That led to Matt Barnes coming out for the ninth, and the Red Sox closer needed all of nine pitches to work a 1-2-3 inning and notch his eighth save of the season to preserve the 4-3 win.

Next up: Perez vs. Lopez

The Red Sox will go four the four-game sweep over the Orioles and their fifth consecutive win overall on Monday night.

Left-hander Martin Perez will get the ball for Boston, and he will be opposed by right-hander Jorge Lopez for Baltimore.

Boson got to Lopez for seven runs (two home runs) in just four innings the last time they faced him on April 11.

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

(Picture of Rafael Devers and Bobby Dalbec: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Christian Arroyo (left hand contusion) on injured list, recall Jonathan Araúz from Triple-A Worcester

Before taking on the Orioles on Sunday, the Red Sox placed infielder Christian Arroyo on the 10-day injured list due to a left hand contusion, retroactive to May 7.

In a corresponding move, infielder Jonathan Arauz was recalled from Triple-A Worcester, the team announced Sunday.

Arroyo had been out of the Sox’ lineup since Wednesday after getting hit in the left hand by a pitch in the sixth inning of a 6-5 loss to the Tigers.

The 25-year-old remained in the game to take his base, but was removed after the seventh inning and was later diagnosed with a left hand contusion. X-rays on his injured hand came back negative.

While he was out of the lineup, Arroyo had been available to pinch-run and come in as a defensive replacement, as was the case in Thursday’s 12-9 win over Detroit.

The only thing that had hindered Arroyo was his ability to swing a bat, and that ultimately led to him being placed on the injured list before Sunday’s game against Baltimore.

“He’s going to try to swing today,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said in regards to Arroyo’s status earlier Sunday morning. “He tried yesterday, was a little bit sore.”

Wednesday was not the first time this season, or in his career, that Arroyo has been hit in the hand by a pitch.

On April 25 against the Mariners, the right-handed hitter was drilled in the left hand by a 94 mph fastball from Drew Steckenrider that would force him to miss two games.

Going back to 2017 when he was still a top prospect in the Giants system, Arroyo missed the final two months of the minor-league season after sustaining a fractured left hand on a hit-by-pitch.

Because of that history, the Red Sox will likely be cautious in monitoring how Arroyo comes back from this latest contusion.

Through 23 games this season, the Florida native is slashing .275/.333/.377 with seven doubles and five RBI over 76 plate appearances.

Since the start of his stint on the IL was backdated to May 7, the earliest Arroyo can be activated is May 17.

Arauz, meanwhile, was recently added to the Sox’ taxi squad for their trip to Baltimore in the event that Arroyo would need to be placed on the injured list.

The 22-year-old initially opened the year at the alternate training site and later Triple-A Worcester, where he had gotten off to a 3-for-15 start at the plate prior to getting called up on Sunday.

Originally selected by the Red Sox in the 2019 Rule 5 Draft, Arauz compiled a .250/.325/.319 slash line to go along with one home run and nine RBI over 25 games last year in what was his rookie season.

In Arauz, the Red Sox add yet another versatile infielder to the mix who has shown flashes defensively and can hit from both sides of the plate.

“Infielder. Switch-hitter. Good baseball player,” said Cora.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Michael Chavis homers in first start of season as Red Sox pounce on Orioles, 11-6, for third straight win

Michael Chavis announced his return to the Red Sox with a bang on Saturday night against the Orioles.

In his first game back with Boston since last September, Chavis — who was recalled from Triple-A Worcester on Friday, crushed a 381-foot two-run home run off Baltimore starter Zac Lowther to give his side a 4-1 lead in the second inning.

The 25-year-old finished the day 1-for-6 at the plate as the Sox topped the O’s by a final score of 11-6 to improve to 21-13 on the season.

All nine members of Boston’s starting lineup either scored or drove in a run on Saturday, Chavis included.

On top of that, Alex Verdugo and Xander Bogaerts both had three-hit nights, while Christian Vazquez and Hunter Renfroe both collected two hits.

Bogaerts homers, shows off defensive prowess

Chavis was not the only Red Sox hitter to go deep on Saturday. Xander Bogaerts also went yard to notch his seventh home run of the season in the seventh inning.

There, after the Sox had gone up 9-2 over the Orioles, the star shortstop put the finishing touches on a commanding win with yet another two-run blast to score J.D. Martinez as well as himself on a 414-foot shot off Tyler Wells.

Per Baseball Savant, Bogaerts’ homer — which gave Boston an 11-2 lead — had an exit velocity of 106.2 mph off the bat.

Not only did Bogaerts impress at the plate, he also made some nifty and somewhat crucial plays with his glove as well. Like in the sixth, when the Orioles had Garrett Richards on the ropes and had already pushed across two runs in the inning.

With one out and runners at first and second, Maikel Franco ripped a 107.9 mph groundball towards Bogaerts.

Fielding the ball to his right while on a knee, the 28-year-old quickly gathered himself, spun, and made a clean throw to second base to start an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

In the seventh, Bogaerts again ended an inning by flashing the leather, this time robbing Cedric Mullins of a base hit by making a leaping grab on a 96 mph lineout.

Richards goes seven innings, picks up win

Richards, Saturday’s starter for the Red Sox, twirled seven solid innings in his seventh start of the season — and third against the Orioles already.

Over those seven innings of work, the veteran right-hander yielded four earned runs on eight hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

He allowed those first two Baltimore runs to cross the plate in the first and second, but then settled down for a decent stretch before allowing two more on three hits and a walk in the sixth.

Despite a taxing sixth inning, Richards did come back out for the seventh and ended his outing on a more positive note by sitting down the final three hitters he faced in order.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 98 (64 strikes), the 32-year-old relied on his four-seam fastball 52% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing two swings-and-misses while topping out at 96.2 mph with the pitch.

Able to improve to 2-2 on the season, Richards’ next start should come against the Athletics back at Fenway Park on Thursday.

Brice shaky, Taylor closes it out

In relief of Richards, Austin Brice got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen at a point in time where his side had a seven-run lead.

Brice worked a scoreless eighth inning, but allowed two runs to score in the ninth before Josh Taylor came on to record the final out of the game on a three-pitch punchout of Trey Mancini.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Kremer

The Red Sox will go for their fourth straight win as well as a series win over the Orioles at Camden Yards on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Nick Pivetta will get the ball for Boston, and he will be opposed by fellow righty Dean Kremer for Baltimore.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Michael Chavis: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Red Sox lineup: Michael Chavis batting leadoff in first start of season against Orioles

Fresh off getting recalled from Triple-A Worcester on Friday, Michael Chavis will bat leadoff for the Red Sox in his first start of the 2021 season against the Orioles at Camden Yards on Saturday.

The Sox called up Chavis, who was on the team’s taxi squad, from the WooSox after placing utilityman Enrique Hernandez on the 10-day injured list due to a right hamstring strain.

Chavis will get the start at second base while hitting out of the leadoff spot for Boston, marking just the fifth time in his big-league career he has done so.

In four previous attempts — all of which came during his rookie season in 2019 — the 25-year-old went a collective 5-for-18 (.278) to go along with two home runs, five RBI, one walk, and four strikeouts over 19 plate appearances. He led off each of those games without a hit and is also a lifetime .202/.276/.356 hitter when leading off an inning, though he has crushed four solo homers when put in that spot.

Up with the Red Sox for the second time this season now, Chavis has a chance to once again prove that he belongs.

The former first-round pick and top prospect had put together an impressive spring, but ultimately lost the competition for Boston’s final bench spot to Christian Arroyo, who unlike Chavis is out of minor-league options.

“He did a good job in spring training early on,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said about Chavis Friday. “I do believe toward the end because of the competition, he started chasing hits and he got out of his approach.”

Since making his major-league debut in April 2019, Chavis has experienced many highs and many lows in his time with the Sox.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Chavis batted 296 with a .389 on-base percentage, .592 slugging percentage, .981 OPS, nine home runs, two doubles, 24 RBI, 14 walks and 30 strikeouts over his first 26 big-league games and 119 plate appearances.

Since then, he has batted a subpar .228 with a .281 on-base percentage, .382 slugging percentage, 14 homers, 13 doubles, three triples, 53 RBI, 25 walks and 147 strikeouts over his last 111 big-league games (427 plate appearances).

“We know what he can do. I saw it in ‘19,” said Cora. “Obviously the league caught up with him. I do believe he did a good job in spring training knowing the boundaries of his swing. And hopefully, when he gets a chance here, he can do it.”

As Chavis prepares to make his first major-league start of the 2021 season against the O’s (15-17) on Saturday, here is how the rest of the Red Sox (20-13) will line up behind him.

Right-hander Garrett Richards will be on the mound for Boston, and he will be opposed by rookie left-hander Zac Lowther for Baltimore.

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

(Picture of Michael Chavis: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Rafael Devers steals base, scores from first as part of win over Orioles; Alex Cora joked that J.D. Martinez was faster than Red Sox third baseman; ‘He took it personally’

Rafael Devers put his speed on full display during the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Orioles on Friday night.

As part of a 1-for-3 day at the plate in which he reached base four times and scored a pair of runs, the third baseman picked up his second stolen base of the season while also doing some things that don’t go down in the box score.

For instance, after reaching first and advancing to second base on a missed catch error committed by O’s starter Matt Harvey in the fourth inning, Devers swiped third base, which would allow him to easily score on a two-out RBI single off the bat of Hunter Renfroe.

Later on in the eighth, Devers again reached base via a fielder’s choice and would come around to score all the way from first on a Christian Vazquez run-scoring double.

Per Baseball Savant, the 24-year-old’s top running speed this season is 27.3 feet per second, which ranks in the 62nd percentile among qualified major-leaguers.

By no means is Devers a speed merchant, but the young infielder has clearly been more aggressive on the base paths so far this year. Why is that the case? Red Sox manager Alex Cora gave his reasoning Friday night.

“I told him the other day that on one of the websites, they had J.D. [Martinez] ranked ahead of him speed-wise, and he took it personally,” Cora said with a chuckle. “He’s a good base runner. He’s a good athlete. He’s fact, actually. Just got to be careful with him, right? He scores from first. He takes his chances as far as stealing bases. He’s in better shape than last year, we know that. He’s a smart base runner. He’ll take his chances.”

Devers was not alone in the stolen base department for Boston on Friday, as Alex Verdugo picked up his third of the year and Vazquez notched his team-leading fourth of the year.

“They see stuff from pitchers and catchers and everything, and they take advantage of that,” Cora said of Devers and Vazquez’s ability to move on the base paths. “We’re very happy with the way we ran the bases today. We were very aggressive. We took advantage of certain situations, and it helped us to win the game.”

Following Friday’s victory over Baltimore, Boston improved to 20-13 on the season to become the first team this year to reach the 20-win mark.

While they do lead the majors in wins at this point in time, the Sox rank 10th among American League clubs in regards to stolen bases, as they have stolen just 15 and have been caught four times in 33 games.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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)

Red Sox’ Bobby Dalbec goes 2-for-3 with 2 hard-hit RBI doubles in Tuesday’s win over Twins: ‘Today, he stayed with the plan, he was very disciplined, and you saw the results,’ Alex Cora says

Bobby Dalbec’s first weekend in Baltimore as a big-leaguer did not go great.

After struggling and only playing in four of a possible six games during the Red Sox’ first homestand of the 2021 season, the rookie slugger went 1-for-11 at the plate with one double, one RBI, two walks, and five strikeouts during his first visit to Camden Yards.

On paper, those numbers do not translate to success. But there were instances where Dalbec showed signs that he was perhaps ready to break out of the season-opening slump he has been mired in.

On three separate occasions last weekend, the 25-year-old recorded an exit velocity of over 100 mph on balls he put into play. Granted, only one of those balls – a 110 mph double — went for a hit, but the hard contact was promising nonetheless.

In his first game since the Sox left Baltimore, Dalbec — batting out of the nine-hole — went 2-for-3 with a pair of clutch, run-scoring doubles against the Twins at Target Field on Tuesday.

The first double, which came off Twins starter J.A. Happ in the fifth inning, knotted things up at two runs a piece. It left Dalbec’s bat at 105.6 mph and was laced down the right field line.

The second double, which came off Twins reliever Randy Dobnak in the eighth inning, gave the Sox a 3-2 lead. It left Dalbec’s bat at a searing 111.3 mph and also wound up in the right field corner.

The one time Dalbec did not reach base on Tuesday, he lined out sharply to Twins right fielder Jake Cave in the third inning on a line drive that had an exit velocity of 107.4 mph.

To put it simply, Dalbec has been crushing the ball as of late, and Red Sox manager Alex Cora attributed the right-handed hitter’s recent turnaround to what he was able to accomplish against the Orioles.

“I think the at-bats in Baltimore started everything,” Cora said of Dalbec following his team’s 4-2 victory Tuesday. “He hit the ball hard. Today, he stays on a pitch and he drives it the other way against a tough lefty (Happ).”

In addition to hitting the ball hard, Dalbec did not strike out at all on Tuesday, which is something he had only been able to do once through his first seven starts of the year.

The young corner infielder came into the week having swung and missed at 20% of the pitches he has seen so far this season, which ranks as the sixth-highest mark among qualified American League hitters, per FanGraphs. He only whiffed two times on Tuesday.

“When you control the strike zone, and you can control your aggression in the strike zone, you’re going to see results,” Cora said of Dalbec’s offensive approach. “We trust the player. We trust him. We know that there’s going to be a few days that he might swing-and-miss a lot, but we do believe that he can make adjustments and he can go the other way. That’s the most important thing with him: He drives the ball to right-center. So today, he stayed with the plan, he was very disciplined, and you saw the results.”

For Dalbec, the fact that he went to the opposite field three times on Tuesday did not come as much of a surprise. After all, it’s not uncommon to see hitters use the opposite field when they are looking to break out of a slump.

“I think it always ends up working out that way, whether I’m trying to or not,” Dalbec responded when asked about the approach he takes when he is struggling at the plate. “I would say using center, right-center, and right field is kind of a good spot for me to get back in line. I felt like I did that in Baltimore… If I’m thinking that way and react, that’s the way it goes sometimes for me.”

Following Tuesday’s showing, Dalbec is now slashing .179/.258/.286 through his first eight games of the 2021 campaign

Slow starts to a season are something Dalbec has grown accustom to since being drafted by the Sox out of the University of Arizona in 2016, but after showing what he is capable of doing against big-league pitching last year (eight home runs in 80 at-bats), the former second-round pick is hopeful he is about to get back on track.

“I’ve always kind of been a slow starter. Hate to say it, but that’s just kind of the way it is,” said Dalbec. “Obviously, I’d like to work that out in the future. But once I get more comfortable and settled at the beginning of the season, I start to get in a good spot. So hopefully this continues right now.”

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Jesse Johnson/USA Today)

Red Sox’ J.D. Martinez hits 3 home runs against Orioles: ‘Right now, he’s locked in and I’m glad he’s swinging the bat the way he is,’ Alex Cora says

J.D. Martinez woke up in Baltimore on Sunday morning without knowing if he would be in the Red Sox lineup later that afternoon.

After coming down with cold-like symptoms on Saturday, Martinez was placed in Major League Baseball’s COVID-19 protocol, which forced him to miss that night’s contest against the Orioles.

The 33-year-old took a rapid and PCR test on Saturday and tested negative for COVID both times, which ultimately cleared him to return to action on Sunday.

Still, for Martinez, who is asthmatic and as a result is vulnerable to high pollen counts, the last two days or so have been frustrating to say the least.

“It’s human nature. You’re going to feel a little thing here and there,” Martinez said during his postgame media availability Sunday. “It’s kind of the world we’re living in right now where every little thing everyone thinks is COVID. So it was frustrating, obviously, not being able to play yesterday. But I know we did everything we could to have me back today.”

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, “pollen is a common allergen that can cause allergic asthma.”

On Saturday, the pollen count in Baltimore was 9.7, which is regarded as a high count. On Sunday, the pollen count fell to 6.6, which is regarded as medium, per Pollen.com.

“With the allergies here, the pollen has been like ridiculously high the last few days,” said Martinez. “It’s like a 10 out of 10, which I think is really messing me up. And my lungs are just always sensitive to sudden changes and stuff just because I have pretty bad asthma. Besides that, I felt OK. Obviously it was still bugging me. Still is. Kind of ready to get on the plane and go somewhere else.”

Despite dealing with allergies, Martinez picked up where he left off on Friday by clubbing three home runs and collecting four RBI as part of a 4-6 effort at the plate while batting out of the three-hole Sunday.

The Red Sox topped the Orioles by a final score of 14-9 to complete the three-game sweep over their division rivals at Camden Yards.

The two times he did not reach base, Martinez struck out, once against Orioles starter Jorge Lopez in the top half of the first and again against O’s reliever Paul Fry in the ninth.

“After that first at-bat, I felt like everything sped up on me,” Martinez explained. “And then I went to the cage and was like, ‘All right, we need to dial this up. We need to get it going. Wake up.’ After that, I felt a lot more in-control and I felt pretty good.”

Martinez was indeed in control from that point forward, as the three home runs he hit off Lopez, Mac Scelorer, and Tyler Wells traveled 372 feet, 382 feet, and 430 feet, respectively.

By the time he came to the plate for his final at-bat of the afternoon, Martinez was gunning to put together his first four-homer game since 2017 and adopted an aggressive approach in order to do so. He wound up striking out on a 3-2 slider from Fry that was well below the strike zone.

“Yeah, pretty much,” responded Martinez when asked if he was swinging at that full-count pitch regardless of its location. “In that moment I was like, ‘I really don’t think he’s going to throw me a strike, but I have to take the chance, just to at least foul it off if it’s a really good pitch. Hopefully he hangs something.”

Fry did not wind up hanging something and Martinez wound up fanning as a result, but the right-handed hitter still managed to extend his extra-base hit streak to nine consecutive games well before doing so.

Through his first eight games of the season now, the three-time All-Star is slashing .472/.500/1.083 with a team-high five homers and 16 RBI over 38 plate appearances.

“He’s locked in. You can tell,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Martinez’s hot start to the 2021 campaign. “He is walking around talking hitting. This is a guy I saw in ‘18 and ‘19, he has an idea of what he wants to do. He doesn’t deviate from his process… He studies himself, he studies the opposition, and he’s in a good place.

“I know he talked about last year and he’s on a mission to prove people wrong, but it was only 60 games,” added Cora. “He was one month away from getting his numbers right. Right now, he’s locked in and I’m glad he’s swinging the bat the way he is.”

For Martinez, though, what he is doing at the plate right now is nothing out of the ordinary from his point of view.

“Honestly, for me, I don’t even notice it. I really try not to,” he said. “You guys know how I am. I repeat the same things over and over to you guys. I think the moment you’re aware of it, you’re no longer in it. So I try to not be aware of it and just focus on the small tasks. Focus on my game plan off certain pitchers and what I’m trying to do. That’s how I kind of control the whole thing.”

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Rob Carr/Getty Images)