Boston Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts Has Makings of Postseason X-Factor
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The Boston skipper dropped third baseman Will Middlebrooks to the bench and replaced him with Xander Bogaerts. On the decision to go with the rookie, Farrell explained to Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston, "It's time to throw him into the fire."
The move immediately paid dividends for the Red Sox when Bogaerts delivered a double in the midst of a three-run second inning. As ESPN Stats & Info reported, the former top prospect was the youngest Red Sox player ever to start a playoff game:
From @EliasSports Xander Bogaerts will be youngest Red Sox to start a postseason game, breaking Babe Ruth's record from 1916 World Series.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 17, 2013
Just moments after serving the two-base hit to left field, however, Bogaerts made a rookie mistake.
David Ross lifted a double to left, but the young infielder failed to score from second. Bogaerts had tried to tag up at second rather than going halfway between the bases. Jacoby Ellsbury bailed him out when he lined a single off the glove of Anibal Sanchez that allowed the third baseman to trot home.
The 21-year-old's bat went quiet for the rest of the night. He struck out and popped out before walking in his final plate appearance.
Which position will Xander Bogaerts end up playing in the long run?
With the glove, the two-time All-Star Futures Game selection more than held his own at the hot corner.
In the bottom of the sixth, a smooth turn from Bogaerts started an inning-ending double play. Bogaerts has risen through the minor leagues as a shortstop, but Jim Callis of MLB.com noted that it's likely he'll eventually "outgrow" the position.
In the minors this season, Bogaerts played 96 games at shortstop and 10 at third as he split time between Double-A and Triple-A. Right now, the Red Sox could use him at either spot.
Through the first five games of the ALCS, shortstop Stephen Drew is hitting .058 (1-for-17). The benched Middlebrooks is batting .100 (1-for-10) in the series with the Tigers and .173 (4-for-23) in the playoffs.
Bogaerts didn't do a ton, finishing the night 1-for-3 with a walk, a double and run. However, he was right in the middle of the crucial three-run rally in the second that helped the Red Sox claim Game 5.
Keith Law told ESPN Boston that he views Bogaerts as a "25 to 30 home run guy down the road."
The powerful Red Sox won't need nearly that much production from the rookie. For now, they'll settle for his quality at-bats, steady glove and composure that belies his age.
As Game 5 winner Jon Lester put it via the Red Sox Twitter account:
Lester: "The guy sitting next to me you wouldn't believe he's (leans in to ask how old Xander is) 21. On big stage he acts like a veteran."— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) October 18, 2013
Next up for Bogaerts and the Red Sox will be Max Scherzer with a trip to the World Series on the line. A big stage for the rookie, indeed.
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