It’s been a tough week for Brock Holt.
The Boston Red Sox utility player was away from his team earlier this week after learning of the death of his junior baseball college coach Derwood “Pops” Penney at the age of 78. Holt noted his former coach was “the greatest man I’ve met” in a touching Instagram post.
Holt returned to the lineup Saturday and made some noise in the fifth when he launched a solo home run into the Red Sox’s bullpen to give Boston a 1-0 lead en route its 4-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park.
It was the first home run for Holt since June 14, also against the O’s. He was seen pounding his heart before pointing up to the sky after his home run. Holt revealed after the game he immediately thought of “Pops” once the ball went into the bullpen.
“It’s funny, during the game you’re focused, you’re thinking about certain things and certain situations,” he told NESN’s Guerin Austin after the game. “When that ball went out, my mind went straight to him. I hit home plate, pounded the heart and looked up. I know he’s proud, I know he’s proud. That one was for him.”
Holt added a bit more on the home run in the locker room:
“… I gave it one of these (chest taps) around second base, and then again at home plate just in case he wasn’t watching the first one,” he said, per the Eagle Tribune’s Chris Mason. “Pretty special moment. Came in to a text message from his wife, so she was watching.”
Holt added because it had been so long since his last round-tripper that he forgot J.D. Martinez would be waiting at the end of the dugout to embrace in a post-homer hug.
“It’s funny because I actually forgot that we do that after homers,” Holt told Austin. “It’s been so long since I hit one. I’m glad he remembered. I’m glad he was down there waiting for me whenever I got in.”
Holt also has been on a tear over his last seven games, going 6-for-16 with four extra-base hits, two RBIs and as many runs.
Here are some other notes from Saturday’s Red Sox-Orioles game:
— Eduardo Rodriguez was 0-1 in three starts in August with a 5.60 ERA heading into Saturday’s outing.
The southpaw turned in 7 1/3 scoreless innings and gave up just four hits and four strikeouts.
“He’s been stepping up,” manager Alex Cora said on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. “… He did an outstanding job. … It was a great one for us and for Eduardo.”
Rodriguez has been stellar in his last eight starts against Baltimore, going 6-0 with a 1.30 ERA with just six walks and 40 strikeouts.
— Boston was hit with some hard news before the contest when it was announced Chris Sale was placed on the 10-day injured list with elbow inflammation. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wouldn’t commit to the southpaw pitching again this season in a pre-game press conference.
“It’s always tough … but we got to keep going,” Cora said. “That’s the way it is. We’ll find out more during the upcoming days. But as of now, somebody has to step up. That’s the way it works in this business and we know it.”
Holt added: “We gotta come out and play, we gotta win,” he told Austin. “That’s the main thing. It doesn’t matter who’s out there. We just gotta play good baseball and we gotta win baseball games. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
— The Red Sox now have won four straight games.
They remain 6.5 games out the second wild-card spot.
— Brandon Workman’s ERA dropped to 1.93 on the season after tossing yet another scoreless inning.
Thumbnail photo via Gregory J. Fisher/USA TODAY Sports Images