Xander Bogaerts' second career walkoff hit gave the Red Sox a 2-1 win over the Tigers Friday night. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

New year, new player: Xander Bogaerts continues to perform in clutch

Ryan Hannable
July 24, 2015 - 8:25 pm

What a difference a year makes for Xander Bogaerts. Maybe the last player the Red Sox would want up in a key situation last year, he's now the player they want up the most this year. Bogaerts continued his impressive season with a walkoff single in the 11th inning in the Red Sox' 2-1 win over the Tigers, which snapped an eight-game losing streak. After batting just .153 with runners in scoring position last year, Bogaerts is hitting .410 with runners in scoring position this year, which leads the American League. Furthermore, since June 7 he's hitting .513. "He's grown up a lot," manager John Farrell said. "He's learning from the challenges of a year ago, he's learned about himself and the confidence has certainly come back to allow him to be the player that maybe some lofty expectations last year held over his head. He's playing a very good game right now." Bogaerts stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 11th inning with Mookie Betts at second base and one out with the struggling Pablo Sandoval on deck against Tigers reliever Blaine Hardy. With the count 2-2, Bogaerts got a changeup that he was able to send up the middle and into center field to score Betts. It was the previous pitch (a changeup) and Bogaerts' development as a hitter which played a part in the second walkoff hit of his career. "I thought he wasn't going to throw me any good pitches," Bogaerts said. "I was a bit aggressive early on in the count swinging at bad pitches. I mean, with that 2-1 pitch, he told me what he was going to do with the next pitch. I was ready for it." Overall for the season, he's batting .310 with three home runs and 47 RBis. The 22-year-old has come into his own this season and has some of his teammates marveling. "He'€™s incredible," Justin Masterson said, who picked up the win. "He'€™s been the best. I mean, you saw '€” that fly ball, I think Koji was pitching there was a fly ball that De Aza, it hung up there forever, right in front of the wall, and Xander was almost out there and could have caught that. That'€™s where he'€™s supposed to be, in case it ricochets and gets there, but those are the little things that beyond the incredible defense he'€™s been playing, he'€™s become a high-caliber shortstop, and with the hitting that he'€™s done '€” he'€™s doing those little things and getting out there and backing up, especially here at Fenway, that'€™s how you play Fenway, but it takes effort to do that. "He'€™s just been coming through and doing his thing. It'€™s been pretty impressive to watch, especially for the young kid that he is." And don't think Bogaerts believes the Red Sox are out of it, as he acknowledged he was scoreboard watching prior to his 11th inning at-bat. "I think before that inning I saw the Yankees were losing to be honest, so I'm like, 'If we get a good win tonight that definitely would be good,'" he said.