For almost a year, the fans saw the light-tower power of Bobby Dalbec, but never this close. For almost a year, they felt his game-changing talent, but again, never this close. The 2020 season plagued by COVID-19 offered Dalbec’s silhouette but never his entire image. Dalbec’s 2021 season brought its struggles and as the frustrations mounted for Dalbec, equally, the fans’ frustration with Dalbec mounted, too.
But as spring decided to blossom Friday on a 71 degree night, so did Bobby Dalbec.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Dalbec finally got his moment. In a game that the Red Sox led for nearly its entirety, the contest quickly became 3-2 in favor of the Angels.
That’s when Dalbec stepped to the plate. He struck out in his previous at-bat but that comes with who he is. A short-term memory is a key to his survival, moreover, his success. With Hunter Renfroe on first, having reached on a single, Dalbec barreled a 1-2 changeup from Angels southpaw Tony Watson for a two-run shot to left-center, delivering an eventual 4-3 Sox win.
“It was a crazy moment,” Dalbec said afterward. “Special moment. It’s something that you dream of as a kid.”
The crowd’s cheers simply were their affirmation. What they read about him, what they saw from afar suddenly had a feeling to it with one swing of the bat. It was Dalbec’s moment that breathed life into Fenway despite its 25 percent capacity.
“It was a cool Friday night at Fenway,” manager Alex Cora said. “It was great to see. The vibe was outstanding. The fans were into it.”
The situation was tailor-made for Dalbec, who has feasted against lefties this season. He’s hitting just .206 overall, but prior to that at-bat, Dalbec hit .351 with two homers in 38 plate appearances.
“I was just trying to get my timing, [Watson’s] kind of got that little funky hitch,” Dalbec said. “He threw me a couple of good pitches to hit early, some of those fastballs.”
The Red Sox blew the lead in the seventh after Nick Pivetta allowed a single to Anthony Rendon and reliever Matt Andriese took over. Andriese yielded a one-out José Iglesias go-ahead double that plated two.
Still, Pivetta was arguably at his best during this outing and did it against a lineup that featured not only Rendon, but Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani tagged Pivetta with an opposite-field homer in the sixth. Ohtani’s double off Pivetta in the first was one of the four hits the Angels tallied against the righthander. Trout, meanwhile, was 0 for 3 with a strikeout vs. Pivetta, while Rendon was 1 for 3 with a strikeout against the starter. Pivetta totaled seven strikeouts in an outing which amounted to six innings plus a batter.
“I went about my business the right way, commanded the strike zone,” Pivetta said. “I need to continue to pitch, get comfortable and do what I do.”
“Nick was outstanding,” Cora said. “He gave us a chance to win. He had a good fastball and good breaking ball to a good lineup.”
As Dalbec made his way into the dugout, the crowd wanted to cement that connection between the two sides. A select few began chanting his name. Then it was the entire stadium. Christian Vázquez urged his rookie teammate to emerge from the dugout for his well-earned curtain call. So, Dalbec did. He reached the top step of the first base dugout as the crowd still erupted even more and offered a wave before disappearing as quickly as his homer did in that frame.
“It always feels great to be able to come up in a big spot like that,” Dalbec said. “And put the team ahead, especially late in the innings.”