Bogaerts shows poise beyond years in Game 4

Bogaerts shows poise beyond years in Game 4
October 9, 2013, 3:15 am
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Through the first three games of the American League Division Series with the Tampa Bay Rays, Xander Bogaets was largely a spectator, his only participation coming as a pinch-runner in Game 3.
      
He had remained on the bench in the eighth inning of Game 3 when it appeared as though John Farrell might have pinch-hit for him, with lefty Stephen Drew hit against fellow lefty Jake McGee.
      
Farrell said after Monday's loss that he didn't second-guess his decision, even though Drew offered only a meek popup in his at-bat.
      
But when the same matchup presented itself in the seventh inning -- McGee on the mound, Drew due and the Sox trailing 1-0, -- Farrell altered his game plan.
      
"I reserve the right to change my mind," said Farrell. "And given some of the struggles that Stephen has had . . . I felt we had to try something different."
      
Bogaerts worked a walk off McGee, went to third on a two-out single by Jacoby Ellsbury and scored on a wild pitch.
      
In the ninth, after taking over at short, he led off with another walk and came around to score, this time on a sacrifice fly by Dustin Pedroia.
      
"For a young guy that's been sitting for quite a while," said Farrell, "obviously he showed tremendous poise and almost ice in his veins and scored two runs of the three we had tonight."
      
Bogaerts watched six straight fastballs from McGee, all of them 95 mph or more, fouling some off and showing patience.
      
"It's huge," said Bogaerts, recounting his first at-bat "It's the biggest walk of my career, I would say, definitely. (McGee) always comes in throwing gas, so I was prepared to hit the fastball. It worked out well. I got the walk and scored the run."
      
When Bogaerts was finally promoted to the big leagues in the final week of August, he couldn't have imagined that he would be scoring two of his team's three runs to clinch its first post-season series in five years.
      
"I didn't even expect to be called up," said Bogaerts, shaking his head in amazement. "I know there was a chance (I might be asked to pinch hit), so I just prepared myself ahead of time. I started stretching and getting my body loose. I was flying, I was feeling more quick than (teammate Quintin) Berry. All that adrenaline, it's amazing."
      
As they celebrated, his older, more experienced teammates tried to comprehend what they had seen from someone who just turned 21.
      
"I'm not having that at-bat at 21, I'll tell you that right now," said Jonny Gomes. "But he's a great kid. You see his talent in between the lines, but we see his talent inside the clubhouse, his work ethic and his will to win. He's off to a heck of a start and getting post-season experience at 21 says a lot."
      
"He had great at-bats," marveled Dustin Pedroia. "Even in the infield, he was calm, under control. You don't usually see that out of a 21-year old kid, so we're proud of him."