BOSTON — The Red Sox have won four straight games, and Xander Bogaerts’ production at the plate is a major reason why.
The rookie shortstop collected three hits, an RBI and scored a run in Boston’s 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Atlanta Braves (28-25) Thursday night at Fenway Park. It’s the first time in his career that he’s posted back-to-back games of three or more hits.
With the Red Sox (24-29) trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Bogaerts singled to right field to drive in Brock Holt, which trimmed Atlanta’s lead to 3-2.
In the bottom of ninth with runners on first and second and the game tied 3-3, the 21-year-old hit an infield single down the third base line. Braves third baseman Chris Johnson threw to second base to start a double play, but Tommy La Stella couldn’t catch it cleanly, and the ball rolled toward right field. That allowed Jackie Bradley Jr. to score the winning run from third.
Bogaerts entered Thursday’s game with a team-leading .287 batting average, which increased to .296 when the Red Sox were celebrating their walk-off win. The young shortstop also has a team-high .388 on-base percentage, and his 15 multi-hit games are tied with Dustin Pedroia for the team lead.
Boston’s offense has been red-hot over the last week, scoring four-plus runs in six straight games, but Bogaerts’ success at the plate goes beyond that span.
There are a few encouraging signs from Bogaerts lately, one being that when he isn’t getting hits, he’s at least making solid contact. His plate discipline also has improved (three walks in his last four games), and the swings and misses on bad pitches out of the strike zone are decreasing significantly.
Injuries to key hitters, including Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks, has forced inexperienced players such as Bogaerts and Holt to produce at the top of the order. Both of them have risen to the challenge, and it’s given the Red Sox a couple of much-needed victories as they try to keep pace in a competitive AL East Division.
Boston begins a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays starting Friday night at Fenway Park.