What a difference this version of Bobby Dalbec makes


Who knows where he goes from here.

It would be easy to resurface the notion that Bobby Dalbec sits at the same crossroads Dustin Pedroia did in 2007, with virtually the identical number of plate appearances.

And if Friday night isn't just a one-time deal, than maybe we will look back and say that Dalbec's two-hit game against the Orioles -- which included a three-run homer -- was the equivalent of that game on May 5, 2007, when Pedroia used a pair of hits against Johan Santana to begin his surge toward American League Rookie of the Year.

But this is the one thing we do know after witnessing the Red Sox become the first team in Major League Baseball to reach 20 wins: When Dalbec swings the bat like this, Alex Cora's lineup takes on a whole new dimension.

"He’s been working hard," said Cora after his team's 6-2 win over the Orioles. "It’s not lack of effort, like I said yesterday. I’m glad he got a single in the first one and he hung a breaking ball and he put a good swing on it. Like i said about Franchy (Cordero), yesterday and today, it’s good to see them smile. This is stuff a tough sport and for them to see results it’s a good feeling and hopefully they can take off now."

Much as was the case with Pedroia, the struggles following Dalbec throughout the early stages of the 2021 season were no surprise. Pitchers and teams were going to adjust, unlike in the Grapefruit League when he was hitting homers almost on demand.

It's why the comparison was an easy one to draw for Dalbec and his manager, who just happened to be the one who helped the former second baseman through that April, 2007 downturn. Now it was his first baseman's turn.

“Yeah, a couple days ago, I talked to [Cora] about [Pedroia],” said Dalbec, who had been in an 0-for-27 slump. “I talked to Pedey about it the other day, too. You’ve just got to talk about it. If you keep it internalized the whole time, it’s going to eat you up.”

Now, we wait.

If Dalbec does get hot, life just gets a whole lot easier for the Red Sox. It's not rocket science: Home runs are good, and this is a guy who can hit a bunch of them.

Want proof? The Red Sox are 7-0 when hitting two or more homers this season and 16-7 when notching at least one. Dating back to last season the Sox' record is 8-2 when Dalbec goes deep.

And now with the likes of Hunter Renfroe and Franchy Cordero showing signs of life, Dalbec's resurgence would go a long way to plugging the lineup hole that had been plaguing this team for much of the season.

“Yeah, me and (Cordero) had a few good talks, and [we’ve] been pulling for each other and talking with each other after games, just so it didn't feel like we were alone going through it,” Dalbec said. “So that helps a lot. He’s an awesome dude, and I'm glad that he came up to me in Texas after one of the games. We talked for five to 10 minutes, so it's great. It’s good to have teammates like that. I'm very fortunate to have teammates like that.”

There were other positives for the Red Sox in their win, such as another rookie, Garrett Whitlock, bouncing back after two straight subpar outings to throw two scoreless innings. Or starter Eduardo Rodriguez giving up just one run in five innings.

But Dalbec was the story this time around. The Red Sox are banking on it becoming a regular thing.

"I mean it’s always good when he hits the ball out of the ballpark," Cora said. "But he put good at-bats. The walk at the end was a good one too. It’s one of those we have to be patient. It’s something that, it’s not that easy. We’ve been seeing good pitching throughout, even in spring training. You’ve got to be patient with the player. One of the things i told you guys a week ago, if we don’t feel these guys can do the job then we made a bad choice in spring training roster wise. You’re going to go through up and downs throughout the season. Hopefully theirs happen early in the season and like I said just put consistent at-bats. If they do that they're going to be in good shape."