Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts has a big opportunity to rebound tonight

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 25: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox throws during the eighth inning of a game against the New York Yankees on June 25, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JUNE 25: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox throws during the eighth inning of a game against the New York Yankees on June 25, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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Xander Bogaerts is looking to lift the Red Sox tonight

Last night was full of nothing but pure emotion from start to finish. The evening began with the Red Sox honoring longtime second baseman Dustin Pedroia as he said farewell to the Fenway Faithful with a retirement ceremony. Then the action began as Boston took on the Yankees for the first time at home in 2021. Xander Bogaerts got things starting quickly with a two-run double, but it would go downhill in a hurry for the de facto captain.

Bogey’s first hit of the game would give the Red Sox a quick 2-0 lead in the game which would eventually become 3-0 before the inning’s conclusion. However, the usually surehanded shortstop would have one of his worst defensive games in a long time and the Yankees made sure to capitalize. Xander would commit his seventh error of the season in the top of the second inning and the outcome was New York leveling the score at three-all.

It was a night filled with questionable plays in the field from the longest-tenured member of the roster and things just didn’t lookup. Not only did he miss several plays that he would normally complete without a second thought on any other night, but he was silent at the plate after that first-inning double. In the bottom of the ninth, he started a double play to end the game and you could see the emotion come from him once it was completed. Bogey didn’t mince words at all in his post-game presser and was honest about his terrible night.

"“I started off the game great and then I messed it up big time,” he said. “That was a rough fielding for me right there, in a long time. I’m the happiest guy that we won today, to be honest, because it could have gotten ugly. These guys picked me up bigtime tonight. I appreciated it.”"

Xander isn’t wrong when he says that the team picked him up. Martín Pérez would settle down on the mound while the bullpen came into the game and was lights-out against a very hungry Yankees lineup. Boston would also tack on two more runs throughout the game to give them the game-winning 5-3 scoreline.

It was weird to see Bogaerts struggle as he did last night as it’s not something we’re accustomed to seeing from the shortstop. He’s been one of the best in the field and at the plate for this team for the last few years, but everyone has an off night occasionally.

Boston has two more games against the Yankees this weekend with a chance to go 6-0 against their biggest rivals in 2021. If the Red Sox want to get back on top of the AL East while continuing to bury the Yanks, they’ll need Bogey on his A-game. Tonight should allow him a good chance to bounce back as he’ll be facing Jordan Montgomery, a pitcher he’s owned in the past.

In 15 plate appearances against Montgomery, Xander owns a .429/.467/.500/.967 slash, so that’s pretty cool. Though he doesn’t have many off nights like we saw last night he took it to heart and was beyond thankful for his team picking up his slack. If we’ve learned anything about Bogey over the years it’s that he gives everything he has to the Red Sox and when he can’t hold up his end he takes it very personally.

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"“Just continued putting up zeroes after I messed up in that first inning,” Bogaerts said. “It was a rough feeling for me. These guys came in and did a great job, man. I still don’t know how I missed because normally, I catch pretty much everything that’s hit to me. Once I missed that one, that one really hurt.”"

The Red Sox are currently a half-game back of the division-leading Rays with Tampa Bay currently winning their game. Boston can’t afford any slip-ups especially with the rest of the division starting to get hot. Well, besides the Orioles. Getting a chance to push New York further down the standings while keeping pace with Tampa is the best-case scenario here. We’ve already seen this season that the Rays don’t stay cold for long, so we have to keep neck and neck with them until we get our chance to strike.

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Xander Bogaerts is a big piece to this Red Sox puzzle and when he’s not on, the puzzle can’t be completed. Luckily for us, those nights don’t happen very often and with how personally he took last night’s nightmare of a performance, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him come into tonight angry. He has a pitcher on the hill he has absolutely dominated and the fuel to not have a repeat of last night, that could mean some big things for the X-Man at Fenway Park tonight.