After missed opportunities early, Xander Bogaerts bails out Red Sox with clutch hit

Ryan Hannable
July 07, 2015 - 7:45 pm
The Red Sox couldn't get a hit when they needed it Tuesday night against the Marlins -- that is until Xander Bogaerts stepped to the plate in the seventh inning. The Red Sox had first and second with one out in the second inning, but Mookie Betts hit into his first double play of the season. In the third inning, the Sox had second and third with no outs and their best three hitters up in David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, but they couldn't score in that inning either. Then came the seventh inning with the bases loaded and no outs. Brock Holt struck out against weird-throwing reliever Carter Capps, which left it up to Xander Bogaerts who came through with a three-run single to put the Red Sox on top 4-3, a lead they wouldn't relinquish. "Right man, right spot," manager John Farrell said. "Against a power arm with a very unorthodox delivery, who has been dominant in his time in the big leagues here with them. But, to put up an eight-pitch at-bat like he did, fought off a number of fastballs. The key to me in that spot was we get to a 3-2 count and Mookie has a chance to be on the move. That's why we're able to score three runs on a base hit. Like I said, right man, right spot for Xander." Capps, whose delivery looks almost like he's jumping at the hitter, was touching 99 mph, but Bogaerts remained calm, even when the count went from 3-0 to 3-2, fouling off a number of pitches before he lined a fastball with the runners off with the pitch into the right center field gap. With the runners off with the pitch, Betts was able to score the winning run from first base. It was the last three-run, regular-season single by a Red Sox hitter since Gary Allenson in 1982. Jacoby Ellsbury had one in the 2008 ALDS. "You don't even know what you're doing up there against that pitcher," Bogaerts said. "You don't want to stay inside, outside, you just want to hit it. He's throwing 100 so, just put the ball in play. All I was thinking was just tough it and hit it hard, not swing hard, just try and hit it hard. Sort of just touching it." Bogaerts was exactly the player the Red Sox wanted to have up at the plate in that situation, especially with how many times they failed to get a big hit earlier in the game. He entered the game with a team-leading .379 average this year with runners in scoring position, which was fourth in the AL. Since June 7, that is even better, as he is hitting .500 and now overall for the season he's hitting .388. It's been a complete turnaround from last season for Bogaerts with runners in scoring position, as in 2014 with runners in scoring position he hit just .153. Farrell said the improvement has to do with his overall game and how much he's grown as a player. "You could say his entire game has improved dramatically," Farrell said. "Defensively, offensively, I think he's grown up after a year in which he was challenged and learned a lot about himself along the way. A guy who we've talked about a lot in those key spots where he's playing with a lot of confidence and no bigger than tonight."