ST. LOUIS -- Only a few short months ago, Xander Bogaerts was playing at Double-A Portland.
Now, near the end of October, he's playing a key role for -- and making crucial contributions to -- a team that's one win away from a World Series championship.
Talk about improbable.
Bogaerts has become the team's starting third baseman in the Series, supplanting Will Middlebrooks. In Game 5 on Monday night, he went 2-for-4 and started the game-winning, two-run rally with a seventh-inning single as the Red Sox defeated the Cardinals, 3-1, and took a 3-games-to-2 lead in the World Series,
"[It's been] a long few months of the season for me," said Bogaerts. "Started from Double-A and now I'm here in the postseason. [I] never even expected to be in the big leagues this year and I'm in the World Series. It's pretty special."
Bogaerts has earned praise for his poise in the field and at the plate and, despite just having turned 21 earlier in the month, doesn't seem overwhelmed. But it may be that he hides his true feelings.
"Am I nervous? Definitely," he said. "I'm human. I'm definitely nervous before the game. But during the game I try to stay as calm as possible and just enjoy the moment. You don't get here too often, so just try to do the best you can. Try to go out there and win games and play good and try to win games."
In addition to the pressures of playing on the game's biggest stage, there's the matter of taking care of family and friends with tickets, and helping with their travel -- the sort of off-field distractions that can bother even veterans.
"For me," said Bogaerts, "most of the time I have my brother around. He always seems to bring me good luck. Probably, I will have my mom and my uncle and my brother come up to Boston for Game 6. It definitely is good when you have some family members around."
Thanks to his performance in Game 5, they might be on hand for something special.