Red Sox Notes: Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts Flashing Immense Potential


Xander BogaertsBOSTON — The Boston Red Sox wouldn?t say die.

The Red Sox rallied on two separate occasions Friday en route to a 9-8, walk-off win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. Yoenis Cespedes produced a game-high four hits, including a game-winning single in the 10th inning.

The Red Sox received contributions from up and down the lineup in one of their most hard-fought and thrilling victories of 2014. Boston?s young players were especially impressive in the win.

Let?s break down Friday?s drama.

— Allen Webster started the game. He allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits over 5 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking two.

Webster struggled out of the gate, surrendering two runs in the first inning. While he settled down a bit, it was another ho-hum performance. Webster wasn?t bad, but he didn?t really do much to separate himself from the pack as auditions continue for next season?s rotation.

— Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion both went deep. Each slugger now has 30 home runs this season.

— Melky Cabrera left the game in the middle of his sixth-inning at-bat. The news wasn?t good.

Cabrera suffered an avulsion of the exterior tendon of his right pinkie finger. He?ll undergo season-ending surgery next week, which is a crushing blow for the Blue Jays.

— Christian Vazquez picked off Cabrera at first base in the third inning.

Vazquez?s excellent footwork, quick release and rocket arm are special. He now has four pickoffs this season, which is the most by a Red Sox catcher since Rich Gedman also had four in 1985.

Gedman played in a career-high 144 games that season. Vazquez has played in 38.

— Vazquez also had two hits, including a bunt single in the 10th inning. Vazquez was called upon to bunt with runners at first and second, and he astutely bunted the ball past Toronto?s charging infielders.

Vazquez said after the game his bunt was by design, showing the young backstop?s awareness extends into his offense.

— Xander Bogaerts suddenly looks locked in at the plate after struggling for much of the season.

Bogaerts collected three hits, including a two-run, game-tying double in the eighth inning and a single in the 10th inning. The eighth-inning double was particularly encouraging because it was hit to right-center field, which is where Bogaerts did a lot of his damage in April and May.

Bogaerts, who was activated from the seven-day concussion list last Saturday, is hitting .400 (10-for-25) with five extra-base hits over his last six games. He has four RBIs through five games in September after totaling four RBIs for all of August.

— Mookie Betts was at the heart of Boston?s two rallies.

Betts had two hits — singles in the eighth and 10th innings — and scored three runs. He scored all the way from first base on Bogaerts? game-tying double in the eighth.

— The Red Sox’s No. 7-9 hitters — Betts, Bogaerts and Vazquez — combined to go 7-for-13 with four RBIs.

— Cespedes clearly has a knack for big hits.

Cespedes? walk-off hit was the second of his career — first with the Red Sox — and improved his average to .667 (6-for-9) with 12 RBIs with the bases loaded this season.

Cespedes is hitting .297 (38-for-128) with four homers, 26 RBIs, seven doubles and two triples in 32 games since joining the Red Sox. His 26 RBIs account for 20 percent of Boston?s total runs over that span (130), and 11 of those RBIs have given the Red Sox the lead.

— Dustin Pedroia provided a spark in his return from a concussion. He had two hits and his sacrifice fly tied the game in the 10th.

— Rusney Castillo had a very encouraging night at Double-A Portland. (Details here.)

— Koji Uehara was removed from the closer’s role before the game. The Red Sox would like for him to work in lower-leverage situations amid his struggles before eventually returning to the role.

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