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Bogaerts Plays Up to Competition

September 11, 2018

By Jason Mastrodonato

Boston Herald

Xander Bogaerts has a knack for playing well against good teams.

Alex Cora thinks he’s setting himself up nicely for free agency after the 2019 season.

Red Sox notebook

The 25-year-old shortstop homered in the first two games of the Red Sox’ series with the Houston Astros, then drove in Mookie Betts for a first-inning run to start the scoring in Sunday night’s game. He finished 4-for-4 in the 6-5 walkoff win

Bogaerts entered last night’s game with a .285 average, 41 doubles, 21 homers and 92 RBI on the season. Another home run would give him a new career high.

“I’m just trying to put up runs, trying to bring in guys,” Bogaerts said. “The more runs we get on the board the more chance we have, especially with the guys in front of me. They’re always on base it seems like. Hopefully we get rolling again.”

Bogaerts has been rolling all year, but especially against good teams.

He entered last night hitting .348 against the Astros, .316 against the Indians and a .306 average overall against teams above .500 this year.

Against teams below .500, he’s hitting .268.

“It’s fun because the other day he has a great series against Cleveland and everybody knows who their shortstop is,” Cora said. “And Francisco Lindor is like, ‘wow.’ They look at the numbers and they’re impressed. Yesterday, the other night, when he hit the homer to straight center, you see Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve looking like, ‘that’s amazing.’ And then he goes deep yesterday and they look at the numbers and you can see. They know he’s a good player and I’m glad he’s having a great season.”

Cora thinks it’ll set Bogaerts up for a nice payday in 2020.

“We talk about that,” Cora said. “Certain times I tell them who’s a free agent first of that class, Lindor, Correa and (Corey) Seager and Bogaerts. And he tells me, ‘it’s me.’ Well, you’re going to set the market, huh? And he smiles. He knows he’s a good player and we challenged him to hit fifth. We wanted him to try to drive the ball and he’s been doing that.”

Bregman wins in all ways

Cora was spotted yesterday on the field before the game wearing a Louisiana State University baseball jersey under his Red Sox jacket. He said he lost a bet to Astros third baseman Alex Bregman. Bregman has put his name into the MVP conversation while hitting .299 with 48 doubles and 30 homers.

Cora compared him to Dustin Pedroia.

“They’re very similar,” Cora said. “I think it’s the passion of the game. First of all, he’s very talented. What you see, that’s just a glimpse. He’s going to be great. He enjoys the game. He liked the fact that I always was there for him, talking about the game and other stuff. Whatever. We just clicked. He likes baseball. I’m passionate about the game. He’s probably more passionate. It’s unreal.”

Switch away from Swihart

Blake Swihart was supposed to start Sunday behind the plate, his first at catcher since the Sox’ took an 8-0 loss to the White Sox last Sunday.

The Red Sox have a 4.68 ERA with Swihart behind the plate this year.

But Cora said he made a last-second change to Sandy Leon to catch Rick Porcello last night because it wasn’t properly communicated in advance to the players.

“I made my decision right after the game, and for Rick to pitch to Swihart, I would have loved to tell him before the game, this is going to happen so they could talk during the game so they could see what was going on with the Astros and how to attack hitters,” Cora said. “I know those conversations happen but it’s not that I didn’t feel comfortable but I was like, no, you know what, I’m going to stay with Sandy and during the week we’ll see how we handle that.”

Comparing to October ’78

Sunday was the first game at Fenway Park in which each team entered with a record at least 36 games above .500 since the Red Sox lost to the Yankees, 5-4, in the “Bucky Dent game” in October 1978, according to ELIAS Sports.

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