|Xander Bogaerts’ growing pains at shortstop proving costly: ‘Inside, it’s just tough’||08.17.14 at 9:08 pm ET|
Much was made after the Red Sox‘ 8-1 loss to the Astros Sunday over a single ruling at second base that proved to be a game-changer.
With two on and one out in the top of the second inning, Marwin Gonzalez hit a ground ball that was fielded by Xander Bogaerts at short for what appeared to be a routine double play.
Bogaerts ran to second, threw to first and jogged with the rest of the team into the dugout with the inning seemingly over.
But it wasn’t.
Astros manager Bo Porter challenged that the ball left Bogaerts’ hand before touching the bag, which the replay proved to be true, giving Houston life in the second. Two batters later Jose Altuve lifted his first-career grand slam to give the Astros a commanding 6-0 lead.
The result didn’t sit well with Red Sox manager John Farrell, who argued that teams are not allowed the review the front end of a double play at second base. The umpires told Farrell the play, which the skipper referred to as “the neighborhood play,” was a reviewable play after receiving confirmation from replay officials in New York prior to Houston’s challenge.
However, none of it would’ve mattered had Bogaerts made the play to begin with.
The rookie capped a troublesome weekend with his second fielding blunder in the last three days, amplifying questions about whether he has the instincts and feel for the game to be a major league shortstop. Read the rest of this entry »
|Defensive miscues cost Red Sox in frustrating loss||08.16.14 at 2:59 am ET|
It seemed as if everything was in place for a Red Sox victory Friday night.
Clay Buchholz gave his team a chance to win, holding the Astros to just two earned runs over seven innings of work, while Brock Holt‘s RBI single in the bottom of the seventh gave Boston a late 3-2 lead.
However, both the lead and the game quickly changed course in the top of the eighth, all due to a head-scratching and bizarre series of defensive mistakes.
With runners on first and second for Houston with two outs, Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez hit a liner that jumped up in front of Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts, looking to end the inning, attempted to get the out at second, but Dexter Fowler beat the force out.
Dustin Pedroia then immediately threw to home in an attempt to nab Gregorio Petit, who was attempting to score on the play. Christian Vazquez caught the ball and attempted to tag out Petit in a rundown, but took an odd angle that allowed Petit to avoid the tag and sneak past the Sox catcher on the basepaths.
“It’s a tough play. … [Pedroia] threw the ball to home plate and I was running to the runner to do a rundown and he came on the other side,” Vazquez said.
Vazquez then flipped the ball to reliever Burke Bandenhop at home, who fumbled the throw, allowing Petit to score and tie the game at 3 runs apiece.
“A strange play with two outs,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell after the game. “Fowler, at first base, does a good job of getting to second base in short order, but Dominguez hits a little bit of a humpback liner that Xander’s got to lay back on, and if the anticipation might have been where the speed of Fowler doesn’t give him a shot at the feed at second base, then does he possibly take the throw across the infield to get Dominguez, who is probably a little bit of a below-average runner.”
“But then I think [Pedroia] makes a heads-up play, even after the safe sign is called, and Christian’s aggressiveness to run him back to third base, his momentum takes him inside the third-base line and gives Petit enough room to elude a tag, and unfortunately that’s a tie ballgame in that spot.”
|Closing Time: Xander Bogaerts, Joe Kelly make mark in Red Sox’ win over Cardinals||08.07.14 at 12:23 am ET|
For Xander Bogaerts, Wednesday might have marked the beginning of an important road back. In one of his most impactful games since June, the 21-year-old drove in both Red Sox runs while playing strong defense at shortstop to lead his team to a 2-1 win over the Cardinals.
Bogaerts slammed an RBI double to the fence in deep left-center with two outs in the top of the fourth to tie the game, 1-1, then lined a bases-loaded, no-out, first-pitch sac fly to center in the top of the ninth. The ability to hit the ball with authority to all fields has been increasingly evident in recent games, with Bogaerts once again coming closer to resembling the dazzling performer who looked so impressive last October in St. Louis and throughout the postseason.
With his two run-scoring plate appearances, Bogaerts shed some areas of season-long futility. He entered the night hitting .156/.239/.219 with runners on base and two outs prior to his double; in 17 plate appearances with runners on third and less than two outs, he had been 1-for-15 with just three RBIs (two on sac flies), no walks and three strikeouts before his game-winning sac fly on Wednesday.
On defense, he made a pair of solid defensive plays in the second inning, initiating a double play with a quick transfer and flip on a slow roller and then making an inning-ending diving play on a ball to his left for a force at second that kept a run off the board.
In a season where wins and losses will mean little in their own right over the next two months, the sight of Bogaerts serving as a game-changer en route to a win was nonetheless significant.
|How Xander Bogaerts can stay at shortstop||08.04.14 at 8:21 am ET|
Red Sox infield coach Brian Butterfield doesn’t know if the move to third base affected Xander Bogaerts‘ offensive production. Butterfield has no way to find out the answer to that question. That being said, Butterfield has noticed a difference in the 21-year-old in the days since the team decided to trade away Stephen Drew, essentially committing to Bogaerts as shortstop for the rest of the season.
For Butterfield, the body language from Bogaerts has been the most obvious sign of the player’s happiness in moving back to his old position.
“He’s always an energetic, smiling kid anyways, but he seems even more enthusiastic, and I’m sure that’s partly attributed to his move back to shortstop,” Butterfield said. “We have a chance to make some more leaps in his progression at shortstop because he does feel a lot more comfortable there.”
While the team appears committed to Bogaerts at shortstop for the remainder of 2014, there is no guarantee that he will stick at the position next year, let alone the rest of his career. Bogaerts struggled defensively to start the season, posting a -7.7 ultimate zone rating (a defensive metric used to quantify how many runs a player has saved or given up through their play on the field), placing him among the worst defensive shortstops in baseball.
Bogaerts’ early season struggles ultimately helped push the team to sign Drew to play shortstop. Before the decision to sign Drew was made, Butterfield said wholeheartedly that he believed that Bogaerts was trending in the right direction defensively and said that he could stick at the position moving forward. That position for Butterfield has not changed in the three days since Bogaerts’ move back to shortstop.
“The biggest thing that we tried to accomplish before he made the move to third was just to get his feet right. Two days of early work or three days of early work, his feet have been right on cue. I’m very pleased with that,” Butterfield said. “During the preparation period, sometimes a guy doesn’t catch the ball the way he wanted to. The biggest thing that you’re trying to accomplish is something from the belt down, and it’s there right now. A good start coming back to his old position.”
|Red Sox-Yankees series preview||08.01.14 at 12:16 pm ET|
The Sox made four trades Thursday before the 4 p.m. deadline, shipping off five players and adding three major league-ready talents who are expected to be in uniform this weekend.
That means the Red Sox‘ lineup will not only look new, but may be improved as well. Slugger Yoenis Cespedes, whom the Red Sox acquired from Oakland for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes, and Allen Craig, obtained from the Cardinals for John Lackey, could be in the starting lineup as soon as Friday. General manager Ben Cherington said they will man the corner outfield positions.
Third baseman Will Middlebrooks also will be back after missing over two months with a broken finger. Rookie Xander Bogaerts will move back to shortstop after Stephen Drew was traded to none other than the visiting Yankees. To top it all off, the Sox called up pitcher Anthony Ranaudo to pitch Friday, which was when Lackey was scheduled to start, in his major league debut.
There’s no telling whether or not the change will be good for the Red Sox yet, but it’s clear things can’t get much worse for them. The Sox have lost eight of their last nine games after being swept by the Blue Jays in a three-game set a Fenway Park this week. The Red Sox were outscored 24-4 in the three games, which included a 14-1 beatdown in Monday’s opener, in a week full of distraction and trade rumors. The sweep put the Sox 12 1/2 back in the AL East and 11 back in the wild card.
The Yankees, whom the Red Sox are 4-6 against this season after taking two out of three at Yankee Stadium June 27-29, had a much quieter deadline than their rivals. New York acquired Drew for the injured Kelly Johnson in the first swap between the two teams since 1997. Drew is expected to play second base while Derek Jeter mans shortstop.
What the Yankees could’ve used was some pitching to aid their depleted rotation, which has lost a number of key players, including standout Japanese rookie Masahiro Tanaka. Instead, New York has tried filling that void with the likes of Chris Capuano, who was designated for assignment by the Red Sox earlier this season, and rookie Shane Greene, both of whom will start this weekend.
The Yankees are coming off a pair of series losses after dropping two of three against the Blue Jays and the Rangers. The losses put the Yankees five games out of the division lead and 3 1/2 back in the wild card chase.
In a theme that will sound familiar to Red Sox fans, the Yankees have struggled in close games of late, unable to come up with the key hit to put them over the top.
“Every game that we lost was by two runs or one run and all but one of those [last 13] games was a one- or two-run game for either side,” manager Joe Girardi said. “So if we get the consistency in our offense, we’re going to win a lot more.”
Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game set.
Friday: Ranaudo vs. Capuano (1-1, 4.30 ERA)
Saturday: Allen Webster (1-0, 3.38 ERA) vs. Greene (2-1, 2.38 ERA)
Sunday: Clay Buchholz (5-7, 5.87 ERA) vs. David Phelps (5-5, 3.89 ERA)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
– The 2014 season has been as frustrating for Dustin Pedroia as anyone, , but he was one of the few with reason to feel good following the Toronto series. Pedroia has two hits in each of his last two games and has four multi-hit games in his last six. He’s hitting .385 in his last seven games to improve his average to .276 for the season, good for second on the team behind Brock Holt.
|Sleeping with the enemy: Red Sox send Stephen Drew to Yankees for Kelly Johnson||07.31.14 at 3:55 pm ET|
According to multiple industry sources, the Red Sox have traded shortstop Stephen Drew to the Yankees in exchange for Kelly Johnson. The deal is most stunning for the participants — the Red Sox and Yankees hadn’t consummated a trade since 1997, when the team acquired Tony Armas Jr. in exchange for Mike Stanley — with Armas, a pitcher, getting dealt that offseason to the Montreal Expos as the second piece in a deal for Pedro Martinez.
Johnson, 32, is hitting .219/.304/.373 in 77 games this year while playing first, second, third and both outfield corners. He is playing on a one-year, $3 million deal.
Drew, playing on a prorated one-year, $14.1 million deal, is hitting .176/.255/.328 in 39 games, and has seen a considerable offensive upswing in his last 14 games, hitting .255/.386/.489.
The departure of Drew will clear the way for the Sox to have Xander Bogaerts play shortstop and to have Will Middlebrooks play third base.
|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|
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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