SAN DIEGO — Entering Saturday night, Brock Holt had homered three times in 165 at-bats this season. Kirby Yates had faced 202 batters and allowed just one home run. So exactly how unlikely was it that the Red Sox utilityman hit a game-winning shot off the Padres’ All-Star closer Saturday night?
“However many at-bats divided by two home runs,” Holt deadpanned. “That’s it.”
Whatever the real odds are, they worked in Holt’s favor in the ninth inning Saturday. He broke a 4-4 tie by sneaking a homer over the right-field wall on the first pitch he saw from Yates.
“I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit,” Holt said. “Obviously, you don’t want to get too deep into the count with him and have to deal with the splitter. So fortunately was able to get a good pitch on that first one and put a good swing on it.”
Holt’s heroics saved the Red Sox on a night when they squandered an early 4-0 advantage and narrowly avoided giving San Diego the lead in the seventh. His homer barely got over Padres right-fielder Hunter Renfroe, bouncing off the top of the wall and going into the stands.
“I knew I hit it good but I kind of hit it high,” Holt said. “I saw Renfroe drifting back kind of slow and it kind of scared me there for a little while. He jumped up and luckily it hit the top of the wall and had enough to get out.”
Yates, originally a Red Sox draftee who didn’t sign back in 2005, has been one of the most dominant relievers in the National League all year. He entered Saturday with a 1.24 ERA in 51 innings, recording more saves (36) than hits allowed.
That changed against Boston, which strung together a solid inning off the righty. After Holt’s homer, the Sox threatened further damage, loading the bases on a Mookie Betts double and two walks.
“We put some good at-bats against one of the best closers in the National League,” manager Alex Cora said. “We pulled it off.”
Holt’s game-winning hit was his second in three days, as he hit a walk-off double to clinch a 5-4 win over the Royals in Thursday’s 12-minute continuation of a suspended game at Fenway Park. He has quietly strung together a series of big moments for the Red Sox this season.
“(I feel good about anyone who we put out there,” starter Nathan Eovaldi said. “Brock has been the hottest right now. Put him in that spot and it seems like he comes through.”