Xander Bogaerts

Chili Davis explains how Xander Bogaerts worked through slump

Chili Davis explains how Xander Bogaerts worked through slump

BOSTON — On a night the Red Sox turned a triple play, the Red Sox player who mattered most was the one infielder uninvolved: Xander Bogaerts, the shortstop who came into a 10-4 win over the Cardinals hitting .178 since the start of July.

Bogaerts had three hits Tuesday, including a line single that was part of an eight-run fifth inning.

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The arrival of Eduardo Nunez and Devers has almost served to hide the shortstop that plays between them. Almost. But Bogaerts remains essential.

To hitting coach Chili Davis, Bogaerts appeared to be coming around during the last homestand.

“Upper body was getting over his lower body, getting over his legs too soon,” Davis said. “So [he was] trying to stay behind the ball and just doing drills to feel himself staying behind the ball, give himself a chance to read the ball a little better. And I thought he had some nice at-bats on the road. ... Tonight, you could see the aggressiveness back, the bat speed.”

But everything seems to tie back to Bogaerts’ right hand — both in terms of health and mechanics, and even communication about it. The top hand, and how to use it.

The process to get Bogaerts here has, at times, been painful. He was hit by a pitch on that hand on July 6.

“It's still a little bit in there,” Bogaerts said. “Some days are a little worse than others. It's something I've never dealt with in my career. You’ve just got to go out there, it's the end of the season, we're in a pretty good place right now as a team. You don't want to be on the bench right now. You just want to battle through stuff.”

Staying on the field is one matter. Getting your swing to a good place is another.

“Being a right-handed hitter, hitting right-handed, you know your strong hand is your right hand,” Davis said. “You want that to be your sort of … power hand, the one that speeds the barrel of the bat up through the ball. But it was leading the way. 

“It was coming a little choppy, kind of leading down on the ball, which when that starts going that way, everything starts going that way with it. So when he gets like more punchy with his swing, it keeps everything back and it explodes through the ball. 

“That’s kind of what he explained to us, Victor [assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez] and myself last homestand. When we got an understanding of what he was thinking, then it was like, 'Oh, because you’re preaching top hand, top hand, top hand' — and you know, top hand isn’t supposed to produce pop ups. But it can, if you do it the wrong way.”

The trouble for Bogaerts was parsing the proper action from the improper.

“In his mind, there was a misunderstanding in how he uses his top hand,” Davis said. “You know, and once he understood it, it got him back, it actually fixed a few things with him. He’s a smart kid and he takes things sometimes, I would say, literally. You know what I mean? 

“And when that happens, it’s confusing, because he’s trying to do the right thing, and it’s confusing, and it’s like, ‘Why am I doing everything I think I’m supposed to do, but then it’s not working?’ But then, when I look at my videos, I’m really not doing what I think I’m supposed to do, I’m doing something else.’ 

“And in essence, he was doing the right move on video, but he thought it was not the right move. He’s got a constant routine every day that he goes through and he sticks with it. He sticks with it. And he is so regimented with his routine that if you do anything wrong in that routine, for him, it carries into the game.”

Sox manager John Farrell echoed that sentiment, noting how important it is for Bogaerts to carry his batting practice successes into games. 

The injury may have been what threw Bogaerts off course to begin with.

“I know his hand bothered him yeah longer than we all know,” Davis said. “Because he was, he took a few days off and he was back in the lineup. And it doesn’t heal that fast. So that could have been another reason why all that stuff started happening.

“I can’t pinpoint when he started struggling, but, I know that might have — that didn’t help. Hopefully his hand’s feeling better and you know, if we get him hot, and Mookie [Betts] is swinging well. All the guys. Hanley [Ramirez has] been swinging the bat better. This is that stretch where you need everybody to start participating, picking each other up.”

That may be the case after every Sox starter had a hit Tuesday. 

Because Bogaerts was doing so poorly for such a prolonged time, the mental wear was impossible to avoid. Davis saw it too. 

Now, Bogaerts seems to have a handle on his swing.

“Sometimes you're wondering what you're even doing up there after you see the at-bat you had is pretty bad,” Bogaerts said. “Sometimes you have a good swing and can't do anything about it. Just try to take the positive from those type of stuff and move forward.”

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Red Sox use triple play, eight-run inning to beat Cardinals, 10-4

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Red Sox use triple play, eight-run inning to beat Cardinals, 10-4

BOSTON --The Red Sox have found different ways to win ball games over the past month.

Their latest came thanks to relentless offense and a rare defensive feat.

Xander Bogaerts had three hits, Hanley Ramirez, Sandy Leon and Jackie Bradley Jr. all added two RBIs and the Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals 10-4 on Tuesday night.

Boston blew the game open courtesy of a wild fifth inning, tallying eight hits and eight runs against Cardinals starter Mike Leake and reliever Matt Bowman. It came an inning after the Red Sox turned their first triple play in six years .

The win kept Boston's lead in the AL East at 4 1/2 games over the New York Yankees. It marked the third time this season that the Red Sox have scored 10 or more runs without hitting a home run.

"I think it shows we don't have to hit homers to win ball games," Bradley said.

The Red Sox have won 11 of their last 13.

Manager John Farrell said he was most pleased to see Ramirez and Bogaerts continuing to provide pop in the middle of the order.

"Those two guys are critical to this offense," he said. "And not just the hits that they had - the way they were able to impact the baseball and drive the ball, it was good to see."

Rick Porcello (7-14) was mostly able to cruise, giving up eight hits and three runs over seven innings to pick up the victory. He has won his past three starts after going winless for more than a month.

Leake (7-11) got the loss and has failed to win in his last four starts. He has yielded 28 hits and 15 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings over his last three outings.

"You've got a team that's swinging the bat well," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He wasn't getting a lot of chases. ... Eventually you've got to come back and challenge them."

Nearly everyone had a hand in the Red Sox's offensive onslaught in the fifth.

Eduardo Nunez and Mookie Betts reached on consecutive singles with one out, then Leake loaded the bases by hitting Andrew Benintendi's left knee with a pitch. Benintendi needed a few moments to shake off the pain before jogging to first to load the bases for Ramirez. He then promptly doubled off the Green Monster to drive in Nunez and Betts.

Leake intentionally walked rookie Rafael Devers, loading the bases once again, and Bogaerts and Mitch Moreland followed with RBI singles to put Boston up 5-0.

Bowman replaced Leake after Moreland's single and allowed a two-run double by Leon, Boston's 10th hit of the game and sixth in the inning, bringing up Bradley for the second time in the inning.

Bradley, whose fly out to left remained the only out of the inning, singled to right bringing in two more runs and Nunez followed with his second single of the inning.

Betts popped out to first for the second out, ending a run of 10 straight batters reaching base.

TRIPLE PLAY

Before the offensive onslaught, the Red Sox turned their first triple play in six years.

With runners at first and second in the fourth inning, slow-footed Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina grounded sharply to Devers at third base. He stepped on the bag and threw to Nunez, who relayed to Moreland at first, where Molina was out on a close play.

It was the first triple play for Boston since Aug. 16, 2011, in Game 2 of a doubleheader against Tampa Bay.

"Of course there's certain times when the pressure's high," Devers said through an interpreter. "You have to make quick decisions. That just comes with the game."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Benintendi was pulled after the fifth, and was replaced by Chris Young. ... Farrell said Dustin Pedroia, who went on the disabled list Aug. 12 with left knee inflammation, continues to do strengthening exercises to stabilize it. But Farrell said the expectation is for his absence to last longer than 10 days.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Lance Lynn (10-6, 3.12 ERA) will be making his 25th start of 2017. Since July 1 he is 4-1 with a major league-leading 1.61 ERA in eight starts.

Red Sox: Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 3.80) went six innings to earn a win over the Cardinals on May 16. Over his last two starts he has given up just two earned runs over 12 innings. He's also limited opponents to six hits in those outings.

Drellich: Devers, Benintendi need help if Red Sox are to keep rolling

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Drellich: Devers, Benintendi need help if Red Sox are to keep rolling

BOSTON -- You have to consider the cast, the group of players who have been powering the Red Sox lately. 

Two players in particular have hit home run after home run for a club that was devoid of the long ball for so much of the season.

“It's been [Rafael] Devers and Benny [Andrew Benintendi],” manager John Farrell said. “Those two guys of late have supplied the power for us. So it's good to see the ball travel as it's been. What we're seeing the last two days from Rafael Devers is nothing short of impressive.”

Great talents. But they need some help. 

Consider who else has been contributing as the Red Sox rattled off win after win -- or rather, who hasn’t.

Doug Fister, who walked four in a disappointing outing, has taken over for David Price. Farrell said Price would throw pregame on Tuesday.

Brock Holt, hitting .197 now, was at second base on Monday in place of Dustin Pedroia. (Eduardo Nunez, who is an unstoppable typhoon, did have another three hits as the DH.)

There’s no significant update on Pedroia at this point. He's getting treatment and strengthening his left knee.

It’s kind of incredible that even without Price and Pedroia, the Red Sox have won 10 of 12 entering Tuesday. You can argue the Sox have done so without several other guys too. 

The strong play in absence of Price and Pedroia is a testament to a deep and capable roster, a team that was projected to be neck and neck with the Indians as the best in the American League this year.

But it’s also an indication there’s a bubble that might burst -- unless some of the standards get going.

In August, Mookie Betts has a .220/.319/.341 line.

“Last night he chased a couple sliders off the plate,” Farrell said. “For periods of time, Mookie, I think, has gotten back into that approach that he had a year ago for the vast majority of the season that was driving balls into right field or right center field on pitches away from him, reacting and turning on balls that were in. 

“Then there’s been times where it looks like he gets a little pull happy and there’s some ball in the air. I can’t say that he’s expanding the strike zone wholesale, that’s not the case. Because he’s still taking his walks. We’re just still trying -- he and a couple other guys, we’re still trying to have them hit stride which they haven’t yet for a lengthy period of time.”

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s in that group. He has a .179/.273/.256 line this month. Hanley Ramirez, who said his shoulders are feeling good with treatment every day, is at .214/.333/.393 this month.

"Yeah [I feel comfortable], three games in New York, first game: homer, double,” Ramirez said. “Second game, one hit. Third game, four strikeouts."

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