Closing Time: Xander Day in the Bronx as Bogaerts makes mark in Red Sox rout of Yankees
|09.07.13 at 4:38 pm ET|
NEW YORK — An already-memorable succession of routs by the Red Sox against the Yankees took on a different, more profound tone, The Red Sox’ latest offensive eruption — this one, a 13-9 victory in which Mike Napoli continued his claim on the title of the hottest hitter in baseball — became an afterthought. Saturday unofficially became Xander Day.
Xander Bogaerts, playing in just his 10th big league game, took four straight pitches to open his fifth-inning at-bat before unloading on a 91 mph fastball right-hander Jim Miller (who was making his big league debut). The detonation of the ball meeting the barrel of the bat was resounding, splitting through the crowd and through noise-cancelling headphones at Yankee Stadium. The flight of the ball? Majestic, monumental. The ball carried beyond the 399 foot sign in left-center, over the Red Sox bullpen and landed in the first row of the bleachers above the bullpen, a shot that seemed reasonable to estimate at 440 feet.
In isolation, the one show of power by the 20-year-old — after demonstrating the patience to work his way into a 3-1 count — was amazing. But it was part of a broader game, a broader set of accomplishments, that represented a coming-out party for the highly touted prospect on national television. He also doubled to left (his first extra-base hit) and made a gorgeous defensive play at shortstop, charging a bounder from Robinson Cano, bending over to barehand it and in one smooth motion, firing to first to clip the Yankees star.
Wondered what Bogaerts’ prospect hype was about? Wonder no more.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Every Red Sox starter had at least one hit while either scoring or driving in a run. The Sox blasted four homers, giving them 17 in their last four games.
– Mike Napoli extended his streak of consecutive plate appearances reaching base to nine by blasting a two-run homer to left to give the Sox an early 2-0 lead and then later adding a solo shot to left in the ninth for an insurance run, his 20th and 21st homers of the year. In his last 12 games, Napoli is now hitting .409/.500/.909 with six homers.
– Jonny Gomes pulverized a three-run homer to left-center, his 13th homer of the year.
– Jackie Bradley Jr. went 1-for-3 with a single and a walk in his return to the Red Sox. He seems likely to get somewhat regular playing opportunities while Jacoby Ellsbury is out.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– John Lackey finally got his run support, and for the first time all year, he earned a win in a game where he allowed more than two earned runs. That said, he also turned in what likely ranks as his worst start of the year, giving up a prevalence of hard contact while permitting a season-high seven runs and, for the first time since June 10, failing to finish the sixth inning (thus ending a streak of 15 straight starts in which he’d recorded at least 18 outs). The right-hander allowed his seven runs on eight hits (five singles, three doubles) while walking three (a noteworthy lapse in control for a pitcher who entered the day having averaged 1.9 walks per nine innings, the sixth-best rate in the AL), hitting a batter and punching out six. His ERA went up from 3.22 to 3.49.
Of course, Lackey was probably owed a win in such an outing after the paucity he experienced throughout the season. After all, he’d suffered losses in eight games in which he’d permitted three or fewer earned runs this year — the most such losses in the big leagues.
– The sagging infrastructure of the Red Sox setup crew was once again visible. Matt Thornton, brought into a 12-6 game with one on and two outs, permitted back-to-back singles (first to Robinson Cano, then to Alfonso Soriano to plate a run) before retiring Curtis Granderson. He was followed by Drake Britton, who in his first appearance since Aug. 31, allowed two runs on two hits and walk in 1 1/3 innings, leaving the Sox in a position where the tying run reached the plate. The Sox did get Junichi Tazawa to retire both of the batters he faced to keep the game at bay.
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