A big first for Holt; Herrera delivers too

BOSTON -- Red Sox third baseman Brock Holt’s first Major League home run ball is likely to land in the same place of honor as many youth athletic achievements: the family mantle.

“[I’ll] probably write 'first home run' on it or something,” Holt said after Saturday’s 7-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. “I got the ball, so that’s pretty good.”

Holt launched a 3-2 fastball from Jake Odorizzi into the Red Sox bullpen in the third inning, marking his first blast in 202 at-bats.

The 25-year-old infielder is becoming increasingly comfortable in the leadoff spot, as well. Holt has reached safely in 10 of his last 12 games and is batting .327 in that span with six multi-hit games.

But, like most utility infielders who don’t have a career home run through 70 games, Holt made his way to Boston largely with his glove.

That was evident in the second inning, when Holt helped starter Rubby De La Rosa avert danger. With runners on the corners with two outs, Holt snagged a Sean Rodriguez chopper with a dive to his right, snaring the ball even as it took a hop back over his head. Holt calmly completed the long throw across the diamond to get Rodriguez at first and keep the game scoreless.

“He’s done an outstanding job on both sides of the ball since he’s come back to us,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Holt. “He’s seemingly settled into that leadoff role and he’s given us some stability at the top of the order.”

As Holt continued to set the table, the Red Sox also got a bump in production from the No. 9 hole, with Jonathan Herrera making a spot start in place of Dustin Pedroia (hand).

In making his first start since May 11, Herrera went 3-for-4 with two runs scored. He also drove in Boston’s fourth run, dropping down a perfect safety squeeze in the fourth. The bunt was placed on the first-base line and scored Grady Sizemore easily.

“I feel great, I’m happy about it,” Herrera said. “Those are the little things that come right to me. When I’m in the game, something is going to happen -- to put the ball down or to move the guy.”

While it likely was just a one-day substitute job -- Farrell said he “fully expects” Pedroia to be back in the lineup Sunday after X-rays and an MRI on his right hand came back negative on Saturday -- Herrera will be ready the next time his name is called.

“I prepare myself every day,” he said. “I come to the ballpark and do the little things -- bunt and take my regular ground balls.

“Just be ready all the time, that’s part of my job.”