BOSTON (CBS) — Every play mattered in a tight 2-1 Red Sox win in Seattle on Thursday night, and Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts turned in three spectacular ones in the victory.
Bogaerts did it with the wood and the leather, smashing a go-ahead homer in the sixth inning before turning a pair of beautiful double plays to help Boston secure their fourth straight W.READ MORE: Senate To Vote On Rachael Rollins Nomination For US Attorney
With Felix Hernandez and David Price dueling and the score knotted at 1-1, Bogaerts came to bat with two outs in the top of the sixth. King Felix had gotten the best of the matchup in their previous two showdowns, striking out Bogaerts in his first two at-bats. So when he stepped to the plate in the sixth, he was just looking to make contact and get on base. He got behind 0-2 before staying alive with some defensive foul balls, eventually working the count to 2-2.
Hernandez didn’t make many mistakes, but he left one a little too high and Bogaerts took advantage, depositing the offering over the fence in left-center. It was Bogaerts’ 10th homer of the season, matching his total from all of last year.
“I was looking horrendous,” Bogaerts said of his at-bat. “I’m not going to lie, I was looking real bad. I fouled off some tough pitches, but no one thought I was going to hit it out. I don’t even think I did. I was just trying to hit the ball in play, get on base. I wasn’t looking for a home run right there.”
That could have been his signature moment of the night, but then Bogaerts came through with a sweet double play in the bottom of the inning. Speedster Dee Gordon was on first after getting hit by an 0-2 Price changeup. On the 11th pitch of his at-bat, Jean Segura sent a sharp grounder up the middle that could have spelled trouble for Boston. But Bogaerts made a sliding stop and in one motion, tagged second base with his glove and, from his knees, fired on to first for the double play. It was one of the most athletic defensive plays we’ve seen from the 25-year-old during his career.
Gordon was off with the pitch so Bogaerts was already making his way to the base when Segura rocketed his grounder up the middle. Bogaerts credited second baseman Eduardo Nunez for flipping the coverage on the play, which put Bogaerts in position to spin the double play.
“He’s usually the guy who has to cover, but felt strongly about me covering the base on that particular pitch,” Bogaerts said of Nunez. “As soon as I caught it I saw the bag right there and I knew I had a chance at turning two. It was a matter of me catching it first before touching the base.”READ MORE: UNH Student Vincenzo Lirosi's Death Ruled As Accidental Drowning
But Boston would need another Bogaerts double-dip to make sure the 2-1 lead he gave them in the sixth would hold up. With Craig Kimbrel on in the ninth to seal the deal, and the Mariners threatening with two on and one out, Bogaerts fielded another sharp grounder off the bat of Ryon Healy. Falling to his right, he corralled the ball from the knees and fired to Nunez at second for the first out. Nunez completed the 6-4-3 double play for the final out of the evening.
Boston manager Alex Cora has been impressed with the pop his shortstop has shown all season, but even more so with his slick fielding he’s displayed. Bogaerts has just four errors on the year.
“He’s doing an outstanding job defensively. People haven’t noticed that,” Cora said. “I think he’s buying into what we’re trying to do defensively. It seems like he’s in the spot. He’s been getting a lot of ground balls lately in that spot. So, we’re very pleased with the way he’s playing.”
As for joining the double-digit homer group — the sixth member of the Red Sox to do so this season, which leads the majors — Bogaerts said it’s all about not thinking about leaving the yard.
“I think I’ve hit for some power in the big leagues so it’s something I can do. It’s a matter of just not getting caught up hitting homers,” he explained. “That’s when the average goes down. I’m just trying to be a good hitter with some power at the same time.”MORE NEWS: Government Forecast Predicts Gas Will Drop Below $3 A Gallon Soon
Asked which of his contributions to Thursday night’s victory was his favorite, Bogaerts said it was the two double plays.