It may be over 3,000 miles from Boston, but some of Xander Bogaerts’ most memorable career highlights have come in the Bay Area.
In August 2013, he made his major league debut when the Red Sox took on the San Francisco Giants.
In April 2019, there was a press conference in a small interview room at Oakland Coliseum as the Red Sox announced a six-year extension for their franchise shortstop.
Friday night in Oakland, he had another night he will never forget.
On the night he made even more Red Sox history, as he surpassed Everett Scott to set the franchise record for most career games played at shortstop, Bogaerts led another victory . He hit a home run, he hit the double to seal the game in the ninth, and the Red Sox began their 10-game West Coast trip with a 7-2 win over the A’s.
Bogaerts had a feeling that a night like this was coming.
“I will (remember that night),” Bogaerts told NESN after the game. “I mean, I had a weird feeling about the whole day. When a day is special like this, sometimes a lot of good things happen to the player. From my first time at bat, I could see the ball. I was like, it’s a little different today. My second at bat, I hit one. It was kinda meant to be.
It was only fitting the night he made history that he would be so involved in a Red Sox win. He made a career out of it for over a decade in Boston.
Bogaerts started the Red Sox with a solo homer in the fourth before saving his best for last, hitting a two-run brace in the ninth as Boston avoided a late rally from the A’s. It was the second three-run night Bogaerts products of the season.
Manager Alex Cora said they have yet to celebrate Bogaerts’ achievement – they are waiting until Saturday, when he will break Scott’s record for shortstop starts – but he is certainly grateful to manage it.
“He’s just a humble kid who likes to win games, so he did his part, right?” Cora told reporters in Oakland. “He hit the home run, he hit the double, played solid and fair defense with him every night, there’s only one manager in the big leagues who can say his shortstop is Xander. Bogaerts, and that’s me. And I’m proud of it. »
There is still a lot of outside speculation over Bogaerts’ future as he may opt out of his friendly contract at the end of this season. While he may be frustrated by the failure of extension talks, he’s clearly happy to be in a Red Sox uniform right now.
“I’m blessed, man. I am blessed,” Bogaerts said. “I’m lucky to be able to play baseball and play for the Red Sox. They gave me the opportunity when I was 16. Me and my twin brother signed on the same day. Since then, we’re here. I’m glad I did well, especially today for my family. I know my mom, my uncle, my whole family will probably watch it at home, so winning is even better.
Other takeaways from Friday’s victory:
The enclosure looked a little flimsy
Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom admitted Wednesday that “we hoped to have a more stable picture in the bullpen than we have.” And although the Red Sox eventually won comfortably, it wasn’t all easy.
The Red Sox led 4-0 going into an eighth inning that proved to be a brief stress-inducer as they needed three pitchers to get through the frame. Tyler Danish, who threw a seventh shutout, walked a first base, prompting Cora to go to Matt Strahm. The usually dependable southpaw allowed another walk before Jed Lowrie hit a two-run brace down the left field line, making it a two-run game.
Cora then had to summon John Schreiber, who threw a wild pitch and another walk before ending the inning.
With a two-point lead going into the ninth, Cora asked Tanner Houck to warm up for the stoppage situation. He didn’t need him in the end, as Rafael Devers and Bogaerts each scored twice as part of a three-point rally to give the Sox a five-point cushion before Ryan Brasier finished the game.
But the bullpen and how Cora handles the final innings in close games will continue to be something to watch. Right now, with Hansel Robles still on the disabled list, Houck might be their most reliable reliever.
“It’s hard because you’re thinking about his health, isn’t it?” Cora said of Houck. “He pitched two innings the other day, but where we were wise we have to win games, right? And he was our best guy available in that situation, and he was hot. But we got added, we will stay away from him, probably he will not be available tomorrow because he was hot, but he will be ready for Sunday.
Nathan Eovaldi looked strong again
His last three starts have certainly come against weaker teams — the Mariners, Orioles and A’s — but Eovaldi has looked much more like himself since the worst start to his career on May 17, when he allowed five home runs in one inning. against the Astros.
Six days after his first full career game, Eovaldi was strong again in Friday’s win as he pitched six shutout innings with eight strikeouts and just one walk. He allowed four hits and didn’t really run into trouble until the fourth, when the A’s had runners on first and third with one out thanks to a pair of singles. But Eovaldi forced Elvis Andrus to fly out deep right and Chad Pinder pulled out to end the set.
Eovaldi’s pitch mix has seemed more effective in his recent starts. On Friday, he sliced through the A’s lineup with his entire arsenal as he generated 16 swings and misses – including six with his fastball and five with his splitter.
In three starts since the five-home run disaster, Eovaldi has a 1.66 ERA, 25 strikeouts and three walks in 21 2/3 innings.