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Xander Bogaerts’ 9th-inning HR a reminder that rookie can accomplish a lot in remainder of season

07.30.14 at 7:04 am ET
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Amidst the trade rumors and speculation surrounding the Red Sox, it’s easy to forget about what happened on the field Tuesday night.

Lost in the shuffle was Xander Bogaerts‘ solo home run, a drive into the Monster seats on a 1-2 cutter from Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen. The shot brought the Red Sox within two runs in the ninth inning, but they would go down in order to end the contest.

Bogaerts finished the night with a pair of hits and a pair of strikeouts, extending his hitting streak to four games. It might not seem like much, but for a young player who has looked lost at the plate during points this summer, it’s progress.

The 21-year-old put together a dismal .106/.149/.159 line with two home runs (his only two extra-base hits) and six walks compared to 33 strikeouts over a stretch of 31 games from June 8 to July 19. While it’s a notably small sample size, he’s turned things around as of late, going 10-for-31 (a .323 average) over his last eight games, dating back to the beginning of the Red Sox‘ last road trip. He’s put together three multi-hit showings over that span. Has something begun to click for Bogaerts?

“I’m just trying to put a good swing on the ball, trying to drive the ball instead of just touching it,” Bogaerts said of his recent performance.

Maybe it’s working. Bogaerts has just three extra-base hits over his last 33 games, but two of those have come in the last week.

While he’s hit for a higher average over the last week or so, the problems that have plagued him over the course of the season remain. The glaring lack of walks and the uptick in strikeouts stands out. He’s fanned in 28 percent of plate appearances over the last 33 games, while he’s worked just four free passes. He’s gone without a walk in his last nine contests.

But while the season may feel like a bit of a lost cause with the Red Sox so far out of playoff contention, two months is a good chunk of time for Bogaerts to turn around his rookie campaign. Tuesday night represented a good start. With the Red Sox out of the postseason hunt, the remaining 46 games of the season will give them a chance to get a good look at some young players, Bogaerts included.

“Two months of the season left you can do a lot,” Bogaerts said. “It’s just a matter of time and putting up good at-bats.”

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