While Jackie Bradley Jr. chose to push his hitting streak, which reached 29 games, out of his thoughts, Xander Bogaerts knows exactly what’s going on when he steps up to the plate.
The Red Sox shortstop extended his Major League Baseball-best hitting streak to 24 games with a seventh-inning single in Boston’s 6-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday, and he told reporters after the game that he was thinking about what was on the line in that final at-bat.
“For sure,” Bogaerts said, per WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “Are you kidding? I know I had that. Live another day. I know I hit it and it might fall in, but I didn’t know how deep the left fielder was playing. It was a lucky one and I definitely will take it.”
Bogaerts currently is the best hitter in the American League with 76 hits and a .350 average. Since the streak began on May 6, Bogaerts is hitting .393 with a 1.007 OPS, five home runs and 17 RBIs. He’s also the first AL shortstop to record a hit in 24 straight games since some guy named Derek Jeter did it in 2006.
But while his teammate Bradley kept a cool head during his own nearly month-long streak, Bogaerts likes the pressure of his feat.
“I know each day that I got it,” Bogaerts said Tuesday, per Bradford. “I wake up, I know that I have it. I come to the field, I know I have it. The first couple of at-bats, you’re not really putting pressure on yourself, but as the game goes on you know your time is running out so you try and focus a little bit more, try and put up a good at-bat and see what happens. I definitely know I have it.
“It’s a good pressure. You have a lot of people pulling for you, wanting you to get that hit. Obviously, in the big leagues it’s not easy to get any type of hit. You take anything like that, an infield it, anything, when you have a streak like that.”
Here are some more notes from Tuesday’s victory.
— In case you haven’t heard, Mookie Betts hit three home runs Tuesday: a leadoff solo shot, a two-run homer in the second and another solo home run in the seventh. It was the first time in history a Red Sox leadoff hitter hit three home runs in a single game, and Betts wants to keep doing it.
“I feel like I haven’t been consistent,” Betts said, per The Providence Journal. “One game is one game. I want to do it for 15 to 20 games.”
Betts also made an amazing diving catch in the seventh, so everyone was buzzing about the right fielder.
“He’s got five tools, and he’s smart,” David Ortiz said, per the ProJo. “It’s all on him.”
— Lost in all the shuffle of the Red Sox’s offensive accomplishments Tuesday was a great 2016 debut for Eduardo Rodriguez. The left-hander began his season on the disabled list with a hyperextended knee, and delivered a pretty strong outing for someone who still had to take it easy.
“I didn’t try to throw too hard (Tuesday night),” Rodriguez, per The Boston Globe. “It was my first time back, and I was trying to throw strikes. I worked both sides of the plate with my heater and changeup, too. The knee was good.”
Rodriguez’s velocity was, in fact, down a little, but he threw 89 pitches for 61 strikes and gave up just two runs on six hits with three strikeouts over six innings.
— Manager John Farrell was happy with Rodriguez’s performance, too, to say the least.
“This is a guy we thought would be a middle rotation guy now joining us,” Farrell said, per the Globe. “It’s like a trading deadline big acquisition for us.”
— Betts has drawn comparisons to Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen before, but here’s a side-by-side look at the statistics.
Yeah, that’s not too bad.
— The win extended the Red Sox’s lead over the Orioles in the AL East standings to three games, and the club is now 12 games above .500 with the best record in the AL and the second best in baseball.
On May 31, 2015, the Red Sox were in a downward spiral at 22-29 and last in the division.
Thumbnail photo via Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports Images
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