Bogaerts directs momentum with bat, arm

October 6th, 2021

BOSTON -- Just five days before the ultra-pressurized American League Wild Card Game Tuesday night between the Red Sox and the Yankees, shortstop was down -- his bat had gone silent at the worst possible time of year.

But he offered this as hope: “You can’t keep a good guy down long,” Bogaerts said after a loss in Baltimore on Sept. 30.

No, you can’t.

With Bogaerts taking center stage a couple of times, the Red Sox pulled out a satisfying 6-2 victory at Fenway Park that vaulted them to the Division Series for a date with the Tampa Bay Rays, starting with Game 1 on Thursday night at Tropicana Field.

Bogaerts, the longest-tenured member of the Red Sox, came out swinging and throwing.

Backed by an opening salvo -- Bogaerts smashing a two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole -- the Red Sox were able to play with the lead the rest of the night.

“The Bogaerts homer in the first inning, I mean, talk about a pop -- and the crowd went nuts, and you feed off that energy,” said Red Sox designated hitter . “You thrive for that, and Red Sox Nation brought it tonight. We needed it, and you can't say enough about the crowd tonight.”

You also can’t say enough about the well-timed resurgence of the veteran shortstop.

Consider that in the final nine games of the regular season, Bogaerts generated just five hits in 32 at-bats -- none for extra bases.

“I mean, you’re just one swing away,” said Bogaerts. “And understanding that the type of hitter that you are, the type of player that you are, and being realistic with yourself, sometimes it takes just one swing.”

This was one fierce swing. Bogaerts obliterated a 2-2 changeup by Cole at an exit velocity of 108.1 mph and a projected distance of 427 feet, per Statcast.

“I was kind of looking for an offspeed pitch, more of a slider, but I guess I was on time for the changeup,” said Bogaerts. “It stayed pretty middle. I was lucky he didn't throw me a fastball because he probably would have blown my hands up. Getting on board, giving us two runs right there was huge.”

It was not only gratifying for Bogaerts to take his best swing in weeks at such a crucial time, but also for his teammates, who watch the way he leads by example every day.

“This game can kick you in the butt sometimes where you can be going really good and then you show up the next day and you don't know what this thing is in your hands. It's a crazy game,” said Schwarber. “But to see the work that guy puts in on a daily basis, to be able to put himself in a great position tonight, and a game that it was a ‘win or go home’ game, it means a lot to us as a team.

“And he is the guy who has been here through multiple championships, and to see him step up tonight and do it, it is phenomenal. You can't say enough good things about Bogaerts. You can't say enough good things about what he brings to our ballclub.”

When the Yankees tried to come storming back after ’s somewhat unexpected exit in the sixth (71 pitches, one earned run, no walks, eight strikeouts), Bogaerts came up with a big play on defense.

For the second time in the game, Giancarlo Stanton hit a rocket that looked poised to soar over the Monster but instead bounced high off it.

Center fielder Kiké Hernández fielded the carom and made a one-hop relay throw, which Bogaerts picked and then fired a bullet home to nail Aaron Judge as Fenway roared with approval.

“That was better than a homer for me, personally,” said Bogaerts. “I mean, if that run scores, it's 3-2. Stanton is at second base, the whole momentum is on their side. The dugout is getting pumped up.

"As Judge was out at home, I saw Stanton was pretty mad. He probably wanted a homer there but also an RBI, and he didn't get that, and he probably felt like he didn't do much because that run didn't score. But that changed the game. That changed the momentum big time.”