BOSTON -- It's hard for a guy with a .329 batting average to scoff too much at his performance. But Xander Bogaerts knows what the missing ingredient has been, and that's why his performance while fueling the Red Sox to an 11-6 victory over the Rangers on Tuesday represented his most satisfying night of the season.
For the first time this season, Bogaerts had three RBIs in a game. It is only the third time he's driven in more than one run in a game.
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To have 15 RBIs in his first 155 at-bats of the season isn't acceptable for the shortstop. However, he is determined to step up with men on base while hitting third in a Boston batting order that is starting to show signs of getting hot.
"Just keep driving in more runs," said Bogaerts. That's what I have to do. I've been scuffling a bit lately with guys on base so I was chasing a lot. I told myself today, 'Don't even be looking away, just stay in the middle of the field, stop chasing, and first at-bat, I got a fastball painted away [for a strikeout looking]."
Fortunately for the Red Sox, Bogaerts didn't let that first at-bat discourage him. In the fifth, he hammered a 2-2 fastball by Rangers right-hander Andrew Cashner into left for a two-run single, snapping a 2-2 tie.
One inning later, Bogaerts smashed a double to left-center on a 1-2 pitch from Jeremy Jeffress to make it an 8-3 game. Every time the Red Sox had a rally in this one, their shortstop was involved. He scored four runs and had three hits to go with the three RBIs.
"Those were huge at-bats, huge innings for me," said Bogaerts. "I was overthinking a lot with guys on base and ended up leaving a lot of guys on base. At the end of the season, you look back and you're pretty disappointed with that."
Last season, Bogaerts had 21 homers and 89 RBIs. He is still looking for his first home run of 2017. But driving in runs -- however that happens -- is his top priority.
"I just haven't come through," Bogaerts said. "I can't say I haven't had chances. I've had guys on third with less than two outs and I've been striking out. I've been getting pitched a lot tougher this year compared to other years and it's just that pitch by pitch, I've got to be focused."
The 24-year-old Bogaerts is one of the best pure hitters in the game when he's going right, and the Red Sox are confident in the production they will eventually get from their shortstop this season.
"We're getting some people on ahead of him, and I think we're seeing him start to cash in with the base hits he's getting," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "The average has been there. You'd like to see some more of the impact that's starting to emerge with him impacting the baseball."