X Marks The Spot For The Rising Shortstop

2013 saw a special player come to the Red Sox organization. The Red Sox shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, came to the big leagues looking to be the next big rising shortstop star.

For baseball fans who grew up in the 1990’s, there were three shortstops that were wellrising shortstop known in the baseball world. The names Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez would be mentioned countless times, and many considered them to be the Big Three of shortstops.

Each one’s career went in a different path. For Derek Jeter, he spent his whole career with the New York Yankees. He also had his number 2 retired by the team. Alex Rodriguez started out playing for the Seattle Mariners. From there, he went to the Texas Rangers, and to the New York Yankees as a third baseman. Finally, Nomar Garciaparra, the Red Sox Nation fan favorite, was traded at the 2004 trade deadline to the Chicago Cubs. From there, he also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland Athletics.

Before Bogaerts

After the trade of Garciaparra, the Red Sox went through a revolving door of shortstops. Many in Red Sox Nation were looking for the one who could ultimately fill the void at the position for a long time. Maybe a player who can spend his whole career in a Red Sox uniform. Well, look no further than the man we know as X-Man, or Bogey – Xander Bogaerts.

The Shortstop Of The Future

Since the 2004 trade of Nomar Garciaparra, the Red Sox didn’t really have much for homegrown shortstops. The acquisition of Orlando Cabrera in 2004, then the signings of Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo made for tough times at Fenway Park. Jose Iglesias, who arrived on scene in 2011, was a bright spot for the organization. However, the Red Sox traded him to the Tigers at the trade deadline in a three team deal that brought Jake Peavy to the Red Sox. About a month later, another name came on scene – Xander Bogaerts.

The young infielder started off at third base, making his major league debut against the San Francisco Giants on August 20th, 2013. From there, Bogaerts went onto leading the Red Sox to their third World Series Championship since 2004.

In 2014, Xander went from wearing #72, to the #2. Bogaerts also was the starting shortstop on Opening Day. He had a great first full season for the Red Sox, playing in 144 games, batting .240 with 12 home runs and 46 RBI’s. He was also on hand when the Red Sox honored his hero, Derek Jeter in his final game at Fenway.

2015 for the X-Man saw him play in 156 games. He also led the Red Sox in batting average, batting .320 with seven home runs and 81 RBI’s. He also finished in second place in the American League batting title to Miguel Cabrera. Bogaerts did however win his first Silver Slugger Award. The last Red Sox shortstop to win a Silver Slugger Award? Nomar Garciaparra in 1997.

In the season that saw David Ortiz play his final season, Bogaerts had another stellar year. Not only did he win his second consecutive Silver Slugger Award, but he also made his first All Star Team in San Diego. He also had a 26 game hit streak that went from May 6th to June 2nd.

The last two seasons for the rising star saw him win another World Series Championship. Although 2017 wasn’t great for Bogaerts, as he was injured due to a hit by pitch to his wrist, 2018 saw his numbers jump. Manager Alex Cora had Bogaerts batting behind JD Martinez, which allowed him to hit a career high 23 home runs. Many of those home runs were grand slams, one of which was the game winner against the Blue Jays.

Rising Shortstop’s New Deal

Prior to his seventh season in a Red Sox uniform, the Red Sox awarded Xander with a six year contract extension worth $120 million. This contract, will see Bogaerts in a Red Sox uniform through at least the 2025 season.

In his press conference, Bogaerts stated that the first person he called after signing the extension was Dustin Pedroia. He also stated that “It’s a very special place to play”, and he wants to keep playing and winning in Boston.

Looking Forward

So far in the 2019 season, Xander has played in 18 games, batting .297 with two home runs. The 26 year old from Aruba is set to be the face of the franchise following his extension. If he keeps having career seasons, we might one day see the #2 in right field next to David Ortiz’s #34.

Red Sox – Yankees: Take 1 Tonight

The biggest rivalry in sports returns tonight: Red Sox – Yankees. The Sox have three wins in their last 5 games and the Yanks have just one. Both teams have three wins at home and three wins on the road. New York is tied for second place in the AL East with the Orioles, while Boston is tied for last place with the Blue Jays. The first series between the ‘pillars of power’ will be just two games, with tonight’s first pitch scheduled at 6:35 PM/ET and tomorrow’s start at 6:30 PM/ET.

As of yesterday, all five of the AL East teams had played at least 15 games. That accountsred sox - yankees for about 10 percent of the season’s entirety. Boston’s .353 winning percentage through April 15th is the team’s worst mark since 2011. New York’s .400 winning percentage is their worst start since 2015. To say the least, things have not been going well for both clubs.

The Red Sox lost 8-1 yesterday in their series finale against the Baltimore Orioles. They have yet to win a series in 2019. Baltimore’s highest paid player, Chris Davis, who averaged 37 home runs from 2012-2017, collected his first hit and first home run of the season against Boston over the long weekend. The league’s reigning MVP, Mookie Betts, who has a batting average of just .222 this season, spoke about his struggles after Monday’s loss.

“Basically, what I’m doing is unacceptable,” Betts is quoted as saying by mlb.com. “I have to figure out a way to get something done and help the team.”

New York’s early struggles derive from a vast amount of injuries. Earlier today, they placed first baseman Greg Bird (left plantar fascia tear) on the 10-day IL. In addition to Bird, key contributors Giancarlo Stanton, Didi Gregorious, Miguel Andujar, Aaron Hicks, Gary Sanchez, and Dellin Betances are all currently on the Injured List.

Red Sox – Yankees: Who’s hot?

Boston’s most productive players entering this series are J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Mitch Moreland. All three hitters are log-jammed in the middle of the Red Sox lineup and are slugging over .500. Moreland’s slugging clip of .647 is good for 8th best in the American League.

The Yankees, despite being extremely short-handed, have several hot hitters. D.J. LeMahieu and Aaron Judge both obtain an OPS over .900. Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres have OPS’ over .850 and, together, have hit a combined 6 home runs. Luke Voit is tied for 5th in the American League with 14 RBIs.

Red Sox – Yankees: Pitching has been cold

In terms of pitching, Boston’s best starter has been David Price, who has pitched at least six innings in all three of his starts. He will not pitch in this abbreviated series, though. Instead, Chris Sale (tonight) and Nathan Eovaldi (tomorrow) will take the hill. Both starters are still in search of their first win of the season.

James Paxton will make his first start in pinstripes against the Sox tonight. He too, is off to a rocky start. His ERA stands at 6.00 through 3 starts. J.A. Happ will pitch tomorrow for New York. Happ has yet to make it through five frames and his ERA sits at an ugly 8.76 clip.

Tomorrow night’s game will be streamed on ESPN’s Wednesday Night Baseball. Afterwards, Boston will have an off-day before beginning a three-game set at Tropicana Field against Tampa Bay on Friday. New York will remain at home to host Kansas City for a four-game series that begins on Thursday.

Red Sox Struggles Continue: Shutout Two Nights In A Row

FRANKLIN, Mass. – When Matt Chapman clobbered an 89 MPH fastball off Chris Sale with one out in the top of the first inning last night, Red Sox Nation cringed. The ball did not have much loft to it. Right off the bat, I thought the ball had a chance at staying in the yard. But as it kept carrying, and as I saw the left-center field fence only 367 feet away, my doubts sunk in, and a split-second later, a Red Sox starter had given up its 12th home run. As Chapman rounded the bases, one thought crept into my head: the Red Sox struggles continue.

However, to everyone’s surprise, the Sox pitched phenomenally the rest of the way. SaleRed Sox Struggles Continue pitched 6 innings, walked two, and allowed only two more hits, one of which was an infield single and the other a single to center. He threw 87 total pitches. The Sox only had to tax two relievers as well, Brandon Workman and Ryan Brasier. Workman pitched the 7th and Brasier pitched the 8th; both of them did not allow a run.

Where Boston struggled in this one was at the plate. More specifically, failing to capitalize when runners were in scoring position. Hitters went 0-7 with runners in scoring position (RISP). Mookie Betts reached second base after doubling off Mike Fiers in the 3rd with two outs. Andrew Benintendi then grounded to second to end the inning.

To lead off the 4th, Rafael Devers singled to right-center field. J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts followed with two consecutive flyouts. Devers could not tag up to advance from first base. Mitch Moreland, next up, singled to right field. Devers rounded second and reached third base. Brock Holt then grounded out to end the frame.

In the top of the 6th, Benintendi recorded Boston’s fifth hit of the evening with an infield single. Subsequently, he stole second. Two batters later, Martinez was able to move Benintendi to third. Following that, with two outs, Bogaerts struck out swinging.

An inning later, Christian Vazquez also reached third base, after a double and a stolen base. To end the inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. struck out swinging. My thinking: the Red Sox struggles continue.

Laureano Again?!

Bogaerts came to the plate in the 9th with one out. He launched a deep fly ball to center field. Oakland outfielder Ramon Laureano, who gunned down Bogaerts at home plate the night before, went up for the catch, but missed. The ball ricochetted off the wall and rolled back onto the outfield grass. Laureano picked up the ball and threw a one-hop dart to Chapman at third base. Chapman caught it cleanly, slapped his glove down on Bogaerts’ side, and the call was ‘out’!

From there, even with Moreland coming to the plate, the life had been sucked out of the Red Sox. Holt eventually struck out to end the game.

Alex Cora frustrated, but still satisfied

“Right now nothing’s going our way,” the Sox manager was quoted as saying on NESN.com. “Honestly, after tonight, I feel better. I feel better because it was a game. 1-0, we had a chance. We competed. … I know what the record is, but honestly I can go home and get some sleep.”

The Sox have now lost four games in a row. Almost a full week into the 2019 season, they find themselves solidified into last place in the AL East.

The Red Sox struggles continue into tonight’s third game out of four against the A’s. First pitch is at 10:07 PM/ET.

Shockingly Poor Start For The Red Sox

Not what you expected to happen, right? The Sox played four meaningful games in March, one last night, and now it’s April 2nd. The team lost 3 of 4 in Seattle and were shut out last night in Oakland. To say the least, 2019 has been a shockingly poor start for the Red Sox.

The starting pitching has been horrific. Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez,shockingly poor start Rick Porcello, and David Price have now all pitched. The results are ugly: 26 earned runs and eleven home runs allowed in 21 innings. The bullpen has not been much better. The club’s eight relievers have all been used, and in 20 innings, have surrendered 20 hits, 7 earned runs, 4 home runs, and eight walks. Matt Barnes has collected the team’s lone save.

In regards to hitting, reigning MVP Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi, who bat one-and-two in the lineup, both have on-base percentages (OBP) of .250. Only Mitch Moreland, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez own an on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) over .800. In comparison to other teams, Boston ranks in the top-5 in all hitting categories, but in the bottom-5 in most pitching ranks.

Now that we know all of that, we must address the key question, which is: what is going on with the Red Sox and why have they come out “flat” after winning the World Series last year?

Pitching is the problem

The starting pitching, besides Price’s performance last night, have not given the offense a chance to get going. 7 runs were allowed in the first 3 innings of game-1, 3 runs through two innings in game-2, 2 runs in the first inning of game-3, and 9 runs through 3 innings of game-4.

In 2018, the Red Sox were the only team that qualified for the postseason to have four hitters (with at least 500 plate appearances) record an OPS of at least .830: Betts, Benintendi, Martinez, and Bogaerts. First baseman Steve Pearce, who played in just 50 regular season games with the team down the stretch, recorded a .901 OPS. One could attribute Betts’s .598 OPS, Benintendi’s .375 OPS, and Pearce’s absence (calf injury) to the poor start for the Red Sox.

Also in 2018, Boston was the only team (postseason eligible) to have a player save more than 40 games with a WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) less than 1.00. That player? Craig Kimbrel – he is not back with the club this year. Kimbrel’s presence in the bullpen could factor in nicely moving forward and take some pressure off relievers.

Poor attitude

One factor to the shockingly poor start for the Red Sox that cannot be measured by statistics is their attitude. Their leader, manager Alex Cora, was asked during postgame if there was any concern following the team’s loss last night.

“Not really. It’s five games. When you go through stretches like this, it (stinks) that it’s early in the season, but yeah, we have to pick it up.”

Cora’s nonchalant demeanor is not changing the way the team is approaching games. The top of the lineup needs to get going. Cora announced today on MLB Network that Betts will move back to the leadoff spot. The starting pitching now starts its second turn. So far this season, Sox pitchers have allowed the most runs in the American League. They rank second-to-last in earned run average (ERA) and batting average against (BAA). In addition, Boston is the only AL team to not record a quality start.

Tonight’s first pitch is at 10:07 PM/ET. We’ll see if things start to change this evening in what has been a shockingly poor start for the Red Sox.

Red Sox Game 3 Recap

First pitch on Saturday night was sixty-three degrees. Pitching matchup: Mike Leake, 34 walks in 2018 – tied for 3rd fewest amongst pitchers to throw at least 180 innings, versus Eduardo Rodriguez, career-bests in wins (13), ERA (3.82), and WHIP (1.27) in 2018. The following is Boston Red Sox game-3 recap.

The game started with an out on a roller from Andrew Benintendi to Dee Gordon. Mookiegame 3 recap Betts then struck out, Rafael Devers hit a single to left, and J.D. Martinez flew out to deep left.

Seattle scored first. Tim Beckham connected on a Rodriguez changeup for a RBI single to center field, and Ryon Healy roped a RBI double to left. Rodriguez escaped the first inning by allowing two runs on 31 pitches.

Game-3 recap: Red Sox lone extra base hit

Mitch Moreland doubled to left-center in the top of the second and Jackie Bradley Jr. singled him in. It was Bradley Jr.’s first RBI of the season. Seattle 2, Boston 1.

In the third, Martinez smoked a line drive to left. Devers came in to score after stealing second base earlier in Martinez’s at-bat. Boston even the score, 2-2.

The next run came in the bottom of the fourth, when Dee Gordon punched a ball over Devers head at third base. Ryon Healy scored.

Game-3 recap: Rodriguez gets roughed up on mound

Seattle scored 3 more in the next inning on a 3-run shot by Jay Bruce. Seattle 6, Boston 2. Eduardo Rodriguez exited the game after pitching 4.1 innings. His pitches by inning were 31, 14, 16, 26, 19. He became the third straight Red Sox starter to allow at least 6 runs.

Meanwhile, Seattle’s Leake pitched a quality start: 6 innings, two earned runs.

Game-3 recap premier moment

The ninth inning was packed with excitement for the second straight night. Sox catcher Christian Vazquez pinch-hit for Blake Swihart and singled to start the frame. Seattle’s Zac Rosscup then got two quick outs, a Jackie Bradley Jr. strike out and an Eduardo Nunez ground out. Andrew Benintendi then walked. Mookie Betts was up next, and hit a screamer to third, where Dylan Moore juggled it, picked the ball up and threw it over Ryon Healy’s head at first. A run scored on the error. Seattle 6, Boston 3. Rafael Devers hit another hot-shot to Moore, and this time it ricocheted off his glove and past the infield dirt. Benintendi scored Boston’s fourth run and Betts was stopped at third.

Mariners skipper Scott Servais then replaced Rosscup with Nick Rumbelow. J.D. Martinez was up next and, sure enough, hit another ball to Moore at third. A third straight error was made! Martinez was safe at first and Betts scored. Seattle 6, Boston 5. Xander Bogaerts was at the plate with the tying run 90-feet away from home plate. He struck out on three straight pitches. Bogaerts went 0-5 Saturday night. Final score: Seattle 6, Boston 5.

It was a tough night for Red Sox hitters. Moreland had the sole extra-base hit. Betts and Bogaerts went a combined 0-10. The team went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Some things I liked were Devers reaching base 3 out of 5 times out of the 3-hole, Benintendi staying in the game after fouling a ball off his leg, the rally put on by Sox hitters for the second straight night, and the bullpen: 3.2 innings, 2 hits, 1 walk, 5 k’s.

The ugly? Rodriguez on the mound, Alex Cora’s decision to keep Rodriguez on the mound into the fifth inning, and Benintendi, Betts, and Bogaerts averaging a combined .200 at the plate. The Sox send Rick Porcello to the mound next for the series finale against Wade LeBlanc.

Next game is Sunday, March 31st at 4:00 PM/ET.

 

Red Sox Game-2 Recap

The following is a game-2 recap for the Boston Red Sox. Last night’s pitching matchup was between Nathan Eovaldi and Yusei Kikuchi. This past off-season, Eovaldi signed a 4-year/$70 million contract with the Red Sox and Kikuchi was signed to a 3-year/$43 million contract with a player option for a fourth year.

Eovaldi, who is pitching in his age-29 season, was brilliant with Boston last season. He made 11 starts, pitched just over 50 innings, allowed 18 runs and struck out 44 in the regular season. He was even more dominant in the postseason, appearing in six games (two starts) and posting an ERA of 1.61 and a WHIP of 0.81 in 22 innings.

Kikuchi made 23 starts for the Seibi Lions last season. He went 14-4 with an ERA of 3.08 and 153 k’s in 163 innings. He is 27 years old.

Friday night’s game began a 3-up and 3-down first inning for Kikuchi. In the bottom of the first, outfielder Mallex Smith took Eovaldi deep to left for his first homer of the year. He had two homers last year with Tampa Bay. Two batters later, Domingo Santana launched another home run, this time to left, for his third of the season. After one inning, 2-0 Seattle.

Game-2 recap: Red Sox starter allows three HRs in consecutive games

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts led off the second and smashed a home run to left-center. It was his first long shot of 2019. He had a career-high 23 last year. Kikuchi, in turn, struck out three of the next four. In the bottom half, Mariners catcher Omar Narvaez pulled a line-drive home run towards the right field foul pole. It stayed fair. 3-1, Seattle. It was Eovaldi’s third home run allowed of the night.

The third inning went scoreless. Then in the home half of the fourth, Tim Beckham led off with a screaming double to right field that sailed over Mookie Betts head. Narvaez, next up, singled to right-center, moving Beckham to third. Third baseman Ryon Healy then sent a double over Jackie Bradley Jr.’s head in center to score Beckham. 4-1, Seattle. Dee Gordon drove in Narvaez with a sacrifice fly, again to Bradley, Jr. 5-1. Mallex Smith then drove yet another ball to deep center and Bradley, Jr. made a catch up against the wall. Smith’s sac fly drove in Healy, 6-1.

The Sox responded in the fifth with back-to-back singles by Rafael Devers and Sam Travis. Bradley Jr. was next up and hit into a double play, but Devers was able to score. 6-2, Seattle.

Eovaldi surprisingly stayed on the mound for one more inning and did not allow another run. In the bottom of the sixth, Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez launched a bomb to deep center, off Kikuchi, for his first long ball of the season. Martinez had 43 home runs in 2018, which were two less of his career-best 45 that he had in 2017. Kikuchi went six innings and earned a quality start with two earned runs. He struck out five.

Game-2 recap: Bullpen comes on

Colten Brewer made his first appearance for Boston when he entered in relief in the bottom of the sixth. He allowed two Mariners to reach base (two walks), but did not allow a run.

A combination of Mariners relievers Matt Festa and Zac Rosscup pitched a scoreless seventh. Red Sox reliever Brandon Workman worked a scoreless seventh as well.

Then, to lead off the eighth, Red Sox catcher Christian Vázquez hit his first home run of the year, a booming drive to deep left. The Sox then went on to load the bases in the same inning. Eduardo Nunez grounded into a double play to end things in the eighth. Seattle 6, Boston 4.

Game-2 recap premier moment

Brian Johnson made his second appearance in as many games for Boston in the ninth and struck out the side. Mariners closer Hunter Strickland was called in to pitch the bottom of the ninth, in attempt to save his third game of the young season. Rafael Devers led off with a double to left field. Next up was Blake Swihart to pinch hit for Travis. Strickland hit Swihart in the foot (right foot) to put the go-ahead run at home plate. No outs. Bradley Jr. then hit a grounder to first, Mariners Jay Bruce went home with it and Narvaez tagged Devers at the plate. 1 out, still two men on. Manager Alex Cora then called on another pinch hitter, this time Mitch Moreland, who had nine pinch-hitting appearances last year. On a 2-0 count, he hammered a pitch to right field. 3-run homer. Boston 7, Seattle 6.

Matt Barnes came on in the bottom of the ninth and did not allow a Mariner to reach base. He struck out two and picked up his first save of the season.

Boston picked up their first win of the season (1-1) and Seattle lost their first game of the season (3-1). Some good things I saw were the Red Sox’s composure, Rafael Devers speed on the base paths, the catchers’ coming up big in clutch moments, and the bullpen. Some bad things were Eovaldi’s three allowed home runs, Nunez’s poor base running, and Devers second error in as many games.

That’s the Red Sox’s game-2 recap. The Sox-Mariners pick it back up tonight at 9:10 PM/ET, with Eduardo Rodriguez and Mike Leake scheduled to take the mound.