Steve Selsky’s bat powers Pawtucket’s winning streak

Steve Selsky’s bat is on fire and so are the Pawtucket Red Sox. The former Arizona Wildcat slugger hit three home runs over the course of a perfect Memorial Day weekend, propelling the Paw Sox to a series sweep over the Durham Bulls and a five game winning streak.

His best game of the 2017 season so far came on Sunday when he hit two home runs including a grand slam off one of the Tampa Bay Rays’ top pitching prospects to power the Paw Sox to a 7-1 win. It was also his first multi-homer game since June 2013 and is the second Pawtucket player this season to hit two home runs in a game, joining outfielder Aneury Tavarez.

“He was outstanding,” Paw Sox manager Kevin Boles said of Selsky on Sunday. “He impacted the ball for us, five total RBI (Sunday), made a difference. He definitely impacted the game. I thought he was terrific.”

Pawtucket’s last loss came at home on this past Tuesday against the Louisville Bats. Since then Selsky has hit four of his seven home runs and nearly doubled his RBI total.

“He’s on time. There’s times where velocity was beating him a little bit, probably a week ago,” Boles said. “But it looks like his lower half is getting established. He’s on time. He’s got good coverage. I don’t think he’s trying to cover all parts of the zone. He’s getting deep into counts at times. He’s done a little bit of everything.”

Selsky had his 2015 season cut short due to an injury but rebounded the next season and made his MLB debut with the Cincinnati Reds, where he batted .314 in 24 games while hitting .280 in 85 games in Triple-A for Louisville.

The Boston Red Sox claimed Selsky off waivers during the offseason and he made the opening day roster before being sent down to Pawtucket. He has experience playing in the outfield and corner infield but has recently played center field more often.

“He’s just a reliable player all the way around,” Boles said. “Not only to do this offensively, but now he’s playing center field with (Rusney) Castillo having been out.”

The winning streak comes at a great time for the Pawtucket. The Paw Sox were 16-24 before the streak, a season low eight games below .500. They are now standing at 20-24 and within range of reaching .500 just before the All-Star break in July. The Paw Sox have had a season of highs and lows, starting at 6-3 then losing 11 of their next 15 games while trying to stay above .500 early in May at 15-13.

With two months into the season, this year’s version of the Paw Sox looks a lot better than last year, which resulted in a 59-85 record. Despite the losing season, Pawtucket has more total hits and runs than their opponents.The Paw Sox have out-hit their opponents, 350-338 and out-scored their foes, 189-170 in their 45 games. Only four teams in the International League hits more homers and scores more runs than the Paw Sox but Pawtucket has the lowest team batting average and hit total in the league. 

The course of Pawtucket’s season can change drastically if Selsky’s hot bat continues to carry the Sox through their winning streak.

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