Red Sox SS 4-for-5 with 4 RBIs, leads AL in batting average and Majors in hits
By Dan Myers
Special to MLB.com |
MINNEAPOLIS -- In the midst of his best season, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts' explanation for his red-hot start was modest enough. Keeping it simple, focusing on the basics and keeping a level head have been the main keys.
"Just trying to get base hits, trying to get on base, just trying to be consistent in the cage and in [batting practice]," Bogaerts said.
Bogaerts had four more hits in a 4-for-5 effort Friday night, boosting his Major League-leading total to 88, leading the Red Sox to a series-opening 8-1 win over the Twins at Target Field.
Bogaerts is hitting an American League-best .349, and his seventh homer, a three-run shot in the fifth that broke a scoreless tie, equals his total from all of last season. It's not just the quantity of hits, it's been the quality and the timing.
"He's having an unbelievable season," said Dustin Pedroia. "Everything he hits, he's hitting it on the barrel. He's finding ways to drive the ball at huge times and in huge situations. He's been great for us."
His home run in the fifth came two batters after the Twins couldn't turn what would have been an inning-ending double play on a Mookie Betts grounder. Instead, Pedroia singled to keep the inning alive for Bogaerts, who launched a Tyler Duffey fastball 430 feet, per Statcast™, into the Boston bullpen beyond the left-center-field wall.
"I kind of knew I hit it good. I thought it was going to go out," Bogaerts said. "That's why you've got to execute and make your outs when you can. It kind of [stinks] for them, but we'll take it."
Bogaerts also had an RBI single in a three-run sixth as Boston turned what was a tight game early into a blowout.
"He's in such a good place right now," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He's so balanced, he's not missing pitches in the strike zone. Big swing on that three-run homer.
"It's fun to watch our young players continue to go about it."
It's common for players to get hot for stretches. For Bogaerts, there hasn't been a time yet this year where he hasn't been swinging the bat well.
Bogaerts has been on a roll since late April. In 46 games since April 20, Bogaerts is hitting .389 with 15 doubles and six homers. He's also walked 15 times during that span.
"To hit .350-plus this time of year, you're getting a lot of hits," Farrell said. "There's been many nights where it's been multiple hits, all different types of pitching. He's an outstanding young player."
Dan Myers is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Red Sox on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.