Xander Bogaerts drives in the tying and go-ahead runs with 2 outs in the bottom of the eighth Sunday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts makes homework against Tyler Clippard pay off with game-winning hit

Mike Petraglia
June 07, 2015 - 2:13 pm
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Nothing symbolized Sunday's dramatic rally from 4-0 down in the bottom of the eighth better than the at-bat Xander Bogaerts put up against Oakland closer Tyler Clippard. Just like the Red Sox, who started the inning down four runs, Bogaerts found himself in a nasty 0-2 hole against the A's righty when he, like his teammates, began to chip away. Bogaerts fouled off two fastballs from Clippard to fall behind two strikes before he really went to work. He took two straight pitches out of the strike zone sandwiched around a throw to first to keep Mookie Betts close. After Betts stole second to put runners at second and third, Bogaerts fouled off another pitch. All the while, Bogaerts didn't change his strategy. A lot of batters would be defensive in this situation, down 4-3 with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position. Foul off pitches until you get a fastball you can drive. But Bogaerts, along with hitting coach Chili Davis had a better idea. "I was not looking for a fastball that whole at-bat and he threw me a lot [of fastballs]," Bogaerts said. "I just fouled them off, stayed alive. I was looking for a changeup since pitch one and he threw me one right there." Why wasn't Bogaerts looking fastball? "He has a good changeup and he tends to throw at least one in every at-bat," Bogaerts said. "On the 2-2, I fouled one off right next to the dugout. Chili looked at me like, 'Yeah, that's it.' We always talk about it. It doesn't matter if you foul off a ball, you've got to try to pull it the next time. Just stay on it and he threw me what I was looking for. It was actually a really good pitch by him. I was just waiting on it and put a good swing on it." Clippard tipped his cap to Bogaerts for hanging in and executing on a changeup that he couldn't have put in a better place. "Threw a changeup down and in. I got it there. It was probably four inches off [the plate] in," Clippard said. "Normally, when guys get to that pitch, all they can do is hit it foul. He did a good job of staying inside that pitch running into him and kept it fair and hit it off the wall. I wasn't mad about the execution. "He took some poor swings on my fastball throughout that whole at-bat. I felt like I did a good job of reading his swing up until that last pitch. Probably should have thrown another fastball but in hindsight it's always easy to say. It is what it is. I'm just trying to get him out any way I can. I'm trying to get him to chase my pitch and he put a good at-bat together after that and stayed inside the changeup." Bogaerts admitted afterward that while he got the pitch he wanted, he knows he just as easily could have headed back to the dugout with the third out of the inning and the Sox still down a run. "[Usually] a strikeout. I went back and saw that [on video]," he said. "I can't guarantee you that I would do that again if I got that pitch." Things seemed somewhat dim heading into the bottom of the eighth. The Sox had managed just five hits in seven scoreless innings against Oakland starter Kendall Graveman. "I remember just looking at the scoreboard in the bottom of the eighth, 4-0," Bogaerts recalled. "Just trying to think how we can get some runs. That was probably the biggest win for us this year, for sure."

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