PAWTUCKET — Josh Ockimey has been able to hit for power for the Pawtucket Red Sox this season, owning a team-best 22 home runs and having the second-most RBI with 53.
With 70 hits in 105 games, Ockimey sports a hefty .473 slugging rate with 69 walks and a solid .356 on-base percentage.
The PawSox’ burly first baseman extended his hitting streak to 10 games and his on-base streak to 15 games with a single in the second inning at McCoy Stadium Tuesday night as Pawtucket played the first of its final 15 home games of the regular season against the the Norfolk Tides.
The PawSox fell 2-0 to the Tides with outfielder Ryan Mountcastle, the IL leader in hits (142), socking a two-out double and scoring the go-ahead run in the first inning, then clubbing a 440-foot solo home run to lead off the seventh inning.
Ockimey is coming off of the worst month of his Triple-A career, hitting just .159 in July with 11 hits and 26 K’s, with three home runs and just eight RBI. However, he is batting .333 over the past 10 games, with 11 hits and seven RBI.
“It’s just getting back to the basics that I kind of got away from,” Ockimey said of his stretch of success at the plate. “I say ‘Start early,’ getting started earlier (in his plate approach). It was more being relaxed up there and not anticipating anything.
“I catch myself being rushed,” he added of reducing his rate of swinging at early and bad pitches.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Ockimey has always worn defensive pride on his sleeve with just four errors in 540 chances this season, but lately he is even prouder of the fact that he is reducing his strikeout rate.
Ockimey has fanned more times than any member of the PawSox with 118 K’s, basically a 1-in-3 rate of leaving the batter’s box without a visit to first base.
“When I’m (swinging) early,” he said, “I can decide if it’s a good one (pitch) to swing at or not. It’s being patient and trusting my eyes.”
Ockimey, a fifth-round draft pick in 2014 by the Red Sox, is in his sixth season of pro baseball, moving along the organization ladder from Salem to Portland to the PawSox. He hit .215 last year in 27 games with the PawSox, clubbing five homers and 15 RBI.
Ockimey has played in more games for the PawSox this season than just one other teammate, Gorkys Hernandez. He has a trusted glove at first base with dexterity that belies his breadth. He has 32 assists and been involved in 61 double plays.
“I take pride in my defense,” Ockimey said. “In the offseason I hammered out ground balls — anywhere from 300-400 a day to 1,500.
“All it took was 45 minutes to an hour every day.”
Ockimey hopes that the final month of the season bodes well.
“I’m looking for a good pitch to hit, that’s a better way to put it,” the 23-year-old Ockimey said. “Depending on the situation too, you want to be aggressive. I’m not looking for THE pitch to hit, just get a good pitch so you can do your job.”
PawSox starting pitcher Ted Stankiewicz allowed just four hits in six-plus innings of work, throwing a season-high 105 pitches. He struck out six and didn’t issue a walk, having 19 K’s and just two walks over his last three starts. Stankiewicz has just one win over his last nine starts with six no decisions. Oddly enough, no walks were issued by pitchers from either team … Infielder C.J. Chatham, a second-round draft pick in 2016 out of Florida Atlantic, made his Triple-A debut at shortstop. Chatham was leading the Eastern League in hitting (.297), playing in all 90 games for Portland … The PawSox were limited to four hits, while taking 10 K’s … Norfolk has the worst record (49-70) in the IL … OF Bryce Brentz (foot contusion) was taken off the IL list, while RHP Hector Velazquez was optioned from Boston. He had made 26 appearances with eight starts for Boston … The PawSox (52-67) were shut out for just the second time. The PawSox are 21-35 at home, 27-39 in games decided by two runs or less … Former PawSox pitching coach Mike Griffin (2003-07) is now in his 11th season with Norfolk … Former BoSox reliever Ryan Brasier struck out the Tides’ side in the eighth inning.