He didn’t just put on a show. Brock Holt did more than that in Sunday’s 4-0 victory over the Rays before a Fenway Park crowd of 37,688. Holt, who goes by the Twitter handle @BrockStar4Lyf, put on a Brock concert in the Fens, going 4 for 4 with a walk, two RBIs, and a run to help the Red Sox extend their winning streak to seven consecutive games.
Playing first base for the first time in his career, Holt ripped four doubles to tie the major league record for a game. The net effect for Holt was that, if nothing else, he seemed to cement his role as the Red Sox’ leadoff hitter after becoming the second Sox batter this season to reach base five times.
With the news that Mike Carp is headed for the 15-day disabled list with a fractured right foot suffered when he was hit by a pitch in Atlanta, and Stephen Drew ready to return Monday as the team’s everyday shortstop, it became readily apparent why the managerial staff had been searching for creative ways to keep Holt’s productive bat in the lineup.
“My mind-set is to just come to the park, if my name’s in the lineup, then get ready to play,’’ Holt said after he recorded the first multiple extra-base-hit game of his career and matched his career high for hits (he had four two years ago when he was with the Pirates).
“If not, I’ll try to find a way to help the team. That’s not up to me. I’m just trying to go out and enjoy it right now and have fun.’’
On Sunday, Holt helped carry the fray to the Rays, with his bat and his willingness to tackle the challenge of playing a new position for the first time in his baseball career.
“He’s doing a great job,’’ manager John Farrell said. “He’s solidified the leadoff spot. As we mentioned before the game, we’re trying to find ways with defensive flexibility to keep him on the field. He stayed inside some pitches to go the other way and uses the whole field, he’s driving the ball with a little bit more authority than he did a year ago. He’s playing with a lot of confidence.
“It was his first time playing first base today and, you know what, he did a good job.’’
Farrell, obviously, was looking past the error that was charged to Holt in the eighth when he failed to field what looked to be a routine throw from shortstop Xander Bogaerts, which put a runner in scoring position with two out.
Edward Mujica, who had taken over from Jon Lester to start the inning, got Holt off the hook when he struck out Sean Rodriguez.
Holt’s error proved to be the only blemish on what was otherwise superb afternoon.
He has reached base in 12 of his last 13 games, a stretch in which he is hitting .375 (21 for 56) with multiple hits in seven of those games.
“He’s in a good place,’’ Farrell said. “Because he’s confident right now, there’s probably more openness and willingness on his part to go to first base for the first time in his career. More importantly, he’s setting the table for us, offensively, and has been a big contributor throughout these last seven games, as has been many.
“This seven-game stretch has [seen] contributions by guys up and down the roster. It hasn’t been a focal point of a couple guys in the lineup.’’
After beginning his day with a crash-course tutorial from third base coach Brian Butterfield on the finer points of playing first base, Holt did his damage at the plate, doubling to left in his first at-bat. He hit a ground-rule double to right that hopped into the stands in the third inning. He stroked a two-run double to left in a three-run fourth that evaded the outstretched glove of a diving Rodriguez, walked in the seventh and scored on Garin Cecchini’s first major league hit, an RBI double to left, and wrapped up his stellar performance with another double to left.
“I came into this year telling myself to shake off last year,’’ said Holt, who hit .203 in 26 games with the Red Sox in 2013. “I’ve always been able to hit — not too many home runs — but hit some doubles, hit some balls in the gap. I’m just trying to get back what I’m used to doing and right now it’s working out pretty well, so it’s been fun.’’
Holt’s four doubles came on the four-year anniversary — to the exact date — of Victor Martinez’s similar feat against the A’s when he was with the Red Sox. Holt was the first rookie to collect four doubles in a game since Atlanta’s Adam LaRoche did it May 15, 2004, at Milwaukee.
Holt’s teammates, though, appreciate what he has brought to the table in this seven-game winning streak.
“He’s a baseball player,’’ said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. “He shows up to the park ready to win. It doesn’t matter, you could throw him anywhere, he’ll have great at-bats, play the game right, he’s a winning player.
“Just getting to know him the last couple of years, the way he thinks about the game, his approach to it, he’s putting on a show, so it’s nice.’’Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.