BOSTON -- One swing. It was the difference between winning and losing, between being lost among a lineup of titans and standing out as one himself.
Xander Bogaerts chose the latter on Saturday, belting a walk-off grand slam to give the Red Sox a 6-2 victory over the Blue Jays in the 10th inning at Fenway Park.
It was the Red Sox's first walk-off grand slam since Rico Brogna on Aug. 14, 2000, against Tampa Bay.
"First?" Bogaerts asked.
Yes, first. And his third grand slam of the season -- two days after Mookie Betts launched one against the Blue Jays. As the ball soared into the outfield, Bogaerts admitted he thought the knock would be a sacrifice fly. He was content with that: All he wanted was the win. Such a grand display had not entered his mind.
"When I saw it go out, it was even better," he said.
After the game, the media scrum that surrounded Bogaerts was so all-encompassing it was hard to see Bogaerts in the center. And just a few hours earlier, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said he felt Bogaerts was being overlooked.
"We're talking a lot about Mookie and J.D. [Martinez] and all that stuff, but if you start looking at Xander's numbers, he probably deserved to be an All-Star, too," Cora said before Saturday's game.
At first, it looked like Martinez would take center stage in yet another game. The slugger put the Red Sox ahead in the fourth inning with a solo home run over the Green Monster -- his 29th, tied with Cleveland's Jose Ramirez for most in baseball. It was also Martinez's 19th round-tripper at Fenway and, because of a strong start from Eduardo Rodriguez, it was enough to keep Boston in the game early.
Hembree held the Blue Jays scoreless through the sixth, then Joe Kelly entered the game in the seventh and allowed two runs. Even trailing, the Red Sox remained determined.
"Just knowing to stay within ourselves, and we can put up runs just as well as they can," Jackie Bradley Jr. said. "So this is our time. We had been struggling early on, but it's hard to hold a good team down."
Back-to-back doubles from Bogaerts and Bradley tied the game in the ninth. Then, with the bases loaded in the 10th and one out, Bogaerts stole the spotlight.
"Running the bases, I wasn't even ... I didn't even remember hitting a homer, to be honest," Bogaerts said.
He didn't even remove his helmet until he rounded home plate, meeting the huddle of his teammates showering him with cheers and sprays of water. Bogaerts and Brock Holt shared their signature handshake, a swap of swift hands followed by dabbing. Has anyone seen Bogaerts beaming this much?
"Yeah, I have," Bradley said.
Maybe it's just that now, others are finally taking notice.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With the Red Sox trailing, 2-1, in the bottom of the ninth inning, Bogaerts drove a leadoff double to the corner in left field. Bradley echoed the momentum Bogaerts sparked by drilling a double to right field that allowed Bogaerts to score and tie the game at 2, where it would stay until the 10th.
The walk-off grand slam was the first in Bogaerts' career and fourth walk-off hit. His third grand slam of 2018 also marked the second most in Boston history. Jim Rice hit the last walk-off grand slam in extra innings for the Red Sox -- against the A's on July 4, 1984.
HE SAID IT
"Just continue to grind. We might have been down a run, but we've been a team that's been very relentless. We felt like we could push across at least one run, and we were able to get that in the ninth and kind of continue playing and got even more." -- Bradley, on the Red Sox's dugout atmosphere while trailing
In his return from the DL, Christopher Johnson (1-2, 4.23 ERA) will make his fourth start for the Red Sox in their final game of the series against the Blue Jays on Sunday. In his last outing, against the Nationals, he totaled two strikeouts, two runs and two walks through 4 2/3 innings. Boston will counter with Marcus Stroman (2-6, 5.90), with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.