Tim Roberson joined an exclusive group of fellow Sea Dogs on May 15th, when he became just the third Portland player in the franchise’s history to hit for the cycle in a wild 13-11 victory over the New Britain Rock Cats at New Britain Stadium in Connecticut.
Roberson’s two run triple to center field in the top of the 10th inning completed the cycle and capped the comeback victory for the Sea Dogs, who at one point in the game were trailing the Rock Cats by a score of 10-4. The triple was only the third three-base hit of Roberson’s career.
“I got a pitch up and put a good swing on it and things happened from there,” Roberson told Kelsie Heneghan of MiLB.com. “Just blessed that I get to do this every day and be a part of this. And what happened tonight, I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. Some things have to happen [to get a triple] — I’m not the fastest guy in the world but luckily, tonight was in my favor.”
His teammates seemed to savor the moment as much as he did.
“They all had smiles on their faces and they were happy for me. We have a great group of guys here. I’ve known them for the long time and they were just happy for me, and I love every one of those guys I play with,” he told Heneghan. “We’re all competitors and at the end of the day, every guy on this team wants to win and that’s the most satisfaction out of all of it is we ended up getting the win tonight and hopefully, we can keep it rolling from here.”
Equally as important as his go-ahead triple in extra innings was the grand slam he hit in the Sea Dogs’ five-run seventh inning to bring Portland within a run. Roberson stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and none out and drilled a Tyler Ybarra pitch over the center field wall to clear the bases, the first grand slam of the season for the Sea Dogs and the first Double-A home run of Roberson’s career.
“Just one of those nights, I saw the ball well,” he said. “Almost speechless and never expected that, but I’m blessed and happy that we got the win, most importantly. To do it at the professional level, and at the place I’m in here and in this moment, I’ll definitely remember this one for the rest of my life.
“I was looking for a good pitch to hit. I kind of chased the first pitch, a curveball down, and I was just looking for something up and to put a good swing on it. And I got that and squared it up…It felt good because we’re down five at that point and it got us back to within one and we’re battling all night. And it felt really good to help the team out and get us within one.”
Roberson followed up his career game with another impressive performance the following day, when he collected four-more hits including two singles and two doubles in the Sea Dogs’ 9-4 victory.
“It’s just seeing the ball well, not trying to do too much, and putting good swings on baseballs,” Roberson told Bob Birge of the Portland Press Herald. “Once you get the barrel on it, you can’t control it from there.”
He added another hit and drove in a run in Portland’s victory in the series’ rubber game, bringing his series total to 9 for 15 with eight runs batted in. The Sea Dogs as a team have been finding their groove on offense as of late, and Roberson is not hesitant to admit he believes in hitting being contagious.
“It absolutely is,” Roberson told Birge. “I’m a firm believer in it. When one guy gets going, hits start rolling, more guys start hopping in and the line keeps moving. That’s what we’ve been able to do the last couple nights.”
After hitting .296 with 15 doubles, five home runs and 41 runs batted in for Florida Gulf Coast University in 2011, he was signed by the Boston Red Sox as a non-drafted free agent and made his Single-A debut for the Lowell Spinners of the New York-Pennsylvania League that very same year. Roberson hit .299/.324/.463 with two doubles, three home runs and nine RBIs over 22 games in his first season as a professional.
He regressed some in his second season, when he hit just .203/.250/.319 with two home runs and seven RBIs over 21 games for Lowell.
Roberson, who has spent the majority of his time playing between catcher, first base and designated hitter, played the 2013-2014 seasons between the low-A Greenville Drive and the high-A Salem Red Sox. Despite the time spent bouncing between Single-A clubs, Roberson’s attitude stayed positive and he managed to notch the first four-hit game of his career last season while driving in seven of the Greenville Drive’s franchise-record 21 runs in a game against the Savannah Sand Gnats at Fluor Field.
“I like to say you’ve got to control the things you can control,” Roberson told Mark Emery of MiLB.com in June of 2014. “I started [in Greenville], went up [to Salem] and started out pretty well, then slowed down a little bit, then right at the end I started swinging the bat really well, ended up coming back down. I’m just trying to keep it going here and help this team win as much as I can.”
In five professional seasons Roberson is a .256/.305/.390 hitter with 43 doubles, three triples, 21 home runs and 113 RBI. He has looked highly impressive thus far in his first season in Double-A, hitting .375/.390/.550 with a home run, a triple, two doubles and 9 RBI in his first 10 games for Portland.
The 25-year old may have a long way to go before reaching the major leagues, but he will join the Sea Dogs’ record books forever after accomplishing last month’s rare feat.