Carter Capps has one of the most unique deliveries in baseball. (Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts wins battle with 'really funky' Carter Capps

Mike Petraglia
July 07, 2015 - 7:17 pm
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The bottom of the seventh, down two runs and the bases loaded and two out. It's the situation every big league hitter would salivate over. But when a 6-foot-5 crow-hopping righty is throwing 100 mph on the mound, that excitement can wane just a bit. Just ask Xander Bogaerts. Even after his rare three-run single propelled the Red Sox to a 4-3 win over Carter Capps and the Marlins Tuesday at Fenway, he admitted that it wasn't the easiest thing in the world to focus in and get the job done. What makes Capps so unique is that after beginning his windup with his right [back] foot on the pitching rubber, he jumps forward in the middle of his delivery and his right foot is about two feet in front of the rubber when he fires the ball to the plate. There has been plenty of debate among those paid to observe the game for Major League Baseball as to whether it's a legal delivery. But MLB has ruled that Capps' delivery, while unorthodox, is legal. Bogaerts was just trying to track Capps' pitches at the plate to see what he was dealing with. He was lucky that Capps couldn't find the plate and fell behind 3-0 before taking a strike and fouling off three straight pitches of at least 97 mph. Capps then threw a 99 mph fastball on his eighth offering to Bogaerts, who singled to right-center, scoring Travis Shaw, Ryan Hanigan and Mookie Betts. "That's really funky," Bogaerts said. "I never faced that guy before. I've seen him a few times on TV pitching against other teams. I mean you don't know to expect until you're up there hitting. I was kind of tracking the first pitches. I'm lucky enough he threw balls so I could see him pretty good and then I put a good swing on the last one. "A lot of guys would want to hit with bases loaded, for sure, but I'm not sure too many against that guy. Funky delivery, throws hard but we came out on top today." "That delivery he's got is unique to him but it's not illegal by any means," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "I think if you see some video from earlier in the year, there's been an adjustment on his part. This is all one continuous motion he's using. There was a little bit of a hesitation where his back foot would plant and he would go again. There's another pitcher in the pitcher in the big leagues in [Jordan] Walden [Cardinals] who's very similar to this. It's unique, it's unorthodox but it's certainly legal." Capps was brought in after another hard-throwing reliever, lefty Mike Dunn, struck out Brock Holt on a 96 mph fastball down the middle, leaving it up to Bogaerts with two out and the bases still loaded. "It's a tough situation, obviously, but I came to face the righty," Capps said. "And it's my job to get the job done right there and I just didn't. I feel like I cost us that game. The team trusts me to get the job done and I didn't right there. "That's his job right there to put the ball in play and it's my job to make him put it in play at somebody. I wasn't going to change I was doing. I'm not going to walk him to face Big Papi. Obviously, I know who's on deck right there. I'm going to challenge him. I just got behind early. I think if I started him off with a strike fastball, it might have been a different at-bat. I just got in the hole early." How fast did Capps look? "I faced a few guys that throw pretty hard, like [Trevor] Rosenthal I faced a couple of times but they have normal deliveries. This guy has a weird thing going on right there. I was just hoping he wasn't throwing a slider right there because I haven't seen him in enough at-bats so I don't know what it was going to look like. But he threw a fastball." Bogaerts, in the midst of a terrific season at the plate and showing his maturity, did not try to do too much. But truth be told, he said he didn't have much choice. "You don't know what you're doing out there with that pitch," Bogaerts said. "You don't want to stay inside, outside or anything. You just want to hit. He's throwing 100. Just put the ball in play. All I was thinking is not just touch it but hit it hard, not swing hard just hit it hard instead of just touching it." The Red Sox are suddenly five games out of first place, having won three straight and eight of their last eleven to improve to 40-45 on the season. "That's really good," Bogaerts said of the hot stretch. "I remember we were playing pretty tough baseball but lately we've been playing really good. Definitely the momentum, the vibe, everything in the clubhouse has changed. It all comes with winning, you know?" How many fan votes does Bogaerts think he won in the All-Star Final Vote tally with Tuesday's heroics? "I don't know. Red Sox fans tend to vote a lot for their guys," Bogaerts said. "Hopefully, they vote a lot tonight."