Thursday’s recipe for success might soon become a fixture on the Boston Red Sox’s menu.
Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr. — three players whom the Red Sox believe will be integral parts of the organization’s future success — all made major contributions as Boston wrapped up its season-opening series with a 4-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
Bogaerts (3-for-4) secured his first career three-hit performance while also scoring two runs. Bogaerts singled in the second, fourth and seventh innings, and the 21-year-old shortstop also made a key defensive play in the eighth inning to record a big forceout at second base with the Orioles threatening in a one-run game.
“He’s a natural hitter. It’s very special to see him work,” Bradley told reporters in Baltimore when asked about Bogaerts. “He’s only going to get better. That’s scary for other teams.”
Middlebrooks (2-for-4) broke an 0-for-8, season-opening skid by singling and doubling in the fourth and sixth innings, respectively. It was an encouraging effort for Middlebrooks, who struck out three times in the first two games and provided flashbacks to last season, when the 25-year-old third baseman struggled offensively for much of the year.
“You’ve got guys picking you up, and not just one guy but three or four,” Middlebrooks said. “It takes a lot of pressure off of you to crush something every game when you know a couple other guys are going to.”
Bradley (2-for-4) put Monday’s game-ending strikeout and his spring training struggles in the rearview mirror by collecting two hits, including an RBI single that was a frozen rope into center field. The 23-year-old outfielder also scored Boston’s second run on a hustle play in the third inning, darting all the way around from first base on David Ortiz’s bloop single to left field.
“He’s a good hitter in my eyes,” Bogaerts said of Bradley. “He didn’t have a good spring training this year, but some guys have trouble finding things early on. He’s a good hitter. I played with him from High-A — almost three years now — I definitely know he’s going to be OK.”
The Red Sox received contributions from other players, too. The bullpen was strong, starter Felix Doubront wasn’t all that bad and Ortiz notched a hit in each of his first three at-bats. But Thursday marked the first time since Aug. 2, 2009 that Boston saw three players age 25 or younger collect multiple hits in the same game. Don’t be surprised if the Red Sox decide not to wait four-plus years this time around to accomplish the feat again.