#ASGWorthy: Red-hot Bogaerts runs hit streak to 23

May 30th, 2016

BALTIMORE -- The East Coast was greeted with summer temperatures over Memorial Day weekend, and Xander Bogaerts is keeping up with the heat. Bogaerts extended his career-long hitting streak to 23 games with an RBI double to left in the third inning of the Red Sox's series-opening 7-2 win over the Orioles on Monday afternoon at Camden Yards.

Bogaerts, who leads all American League shortstops with 2.6 Wins Above Replacement, finished 2-for-4 with two doubles, raising his league-leading batting average to .354. His 75 hits lead the Majors and his 42 runs are bested only by teammate Mookie Betts (46). Combined with 18 doubles and a .405 on-base percentage -- both of which also rank among the league leaders -- Bogaerts continues to make a strong case for a start in the All-Star Game.

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Bogaerts knocked in Boston's first two runs of the game before his teammates joined the party, with Jackie Bradley Jr., David Ortiz and Marco Hernandez all homering after Baltimore tied the game in the ffifth. After Betts and Dustin Pedroia reached on well-placed singles with one out in the third, Bogaerts ripped a pitch from O's starter Tyler Wilson inside the third-base bag and down the left-field line, scoring Betts for a 2-0 lead.

"Ortiz kind of told me I was going to hit a curveball hard," said Bogaerts on the streak-extending hit. "I was like, 'Nah, no chance.' [Wilson] threw a curveball and I just tried to put a good swing on it and see what happens."

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The shortstop owns the longest active streak in the Majors and second best this season after teammate Bradley Jr., who had a 29-game streak snapped on Thursday against the Rockies.

Bogaerts, who leads the Majors with 75 hits, drove in Boston's first run with a groundout dribbler in front of home plate in the first. An alert Betts raced home all the way from second base as the defense focused on throwing out Bogaerts.

Replays showed that ball appeared to hit Bogaerts in the foot before heading up the third-base line, which gave the shortstop a sense of deja vu as he recalled a similar play last year against Baltimore. That time, Bogaerts stayed in the batter's box expecting a foul ball call, one that never came. He was thrown out at first. Lesson learned.

"This time, I was running," he said. "It worked out for an RBI. I only did it because it happened last time."

At some point, opposing pitchers will learn a new game plan against the impressive 23-year-old. But who knows where Bogaerts will have taken his game by then?

"What impresses you is his entire game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He's really emerging as one of the better players in the Major Leagues. An exceptional baserunner, albeit a caught-stealing today, but he's able to handle so many different types of pitches from different types of pitchers. He puts himself in such a good position. To play a pivotal spot on defense. He's an elite player."