TORONTO — A year ago, the Red Sox were trying to determine if Xander Bogaerts was their shortstop of the future. Now he is the best all-around player at that position in the American League.
Bogaerts was 2 for 5 with two runs scored in Sunday’s 4-3 victory against the Toronto Blue Jays. He also made two above-average plays in the field, taking hits away from Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista, and showed creativity on the base paths to steal a run for the Sox.
With the Sox trailing, 3-0, in the fourth inning, Bogaerts singled off Mark Buehrle. David Ortiz followed with a ground ball to the right side.
First baseman Chris Colabello had a play at second base, but juggled the ball and took the out at first, flipping to Buehrle.
Bogaerts noticed third base was left uncovered with the Blue Jays in a shift against Ortiz.
“I saw him catch it late, so I went for it,” Bogaerts said.
Buehrle threw to third and the ball skipped past Donaldson, allowing Bogaerts to score.
“Kind of set a different tone for us. We were a little flat,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “Bogey makes a heads-up play. We encourage that type of base running if circumstances are right.”
Bogaerts is hitting .322. His 180 hits are the most for a Red Sox player before turning 23 since Ted Williams had 193 in 1940.
Bogaerts has the highest batting average and OPS (.771) among qualified AL shortstops.
He also is among the leaders in defensive efficiency, having saved the Red Sox two runs with his glove, according to data collected by Baseball Info Solutions. Only the Orioles’ J.J. Hardy (six) and the Yankees’ Didi Gregorius (three) have saved more.
PawSox stadium in limbo
The proposal for the Pawtucket Red Sox to move to a riverfront stadium in downtown Providence has been squashed.
The Providence Journal reported that Rhode Island political leaders were against the idea. Outgoing Red Sox president Larry Lucchino, the managing partner of the PawSox, told the Journal the decision was out of the team’s hands.
“The formal decision was largely made for us,” Lucchino said. “We were told it was not going to be a suitable site and there were too many obstacles that remained.”
The team is looking for an alternative site in Rhode Island to replace aging McCoy Stadium. New Bedford, Springfield, and Worcester are among the cities interested in the team, but Lucchino has said for months the goal is for the Triple A franchise to remain in Rhode Island.
A call to arms
The Red Sox will start Eduardo Rodriguez, Henry Owens, Rick Porcello, and Wade Miley against the Rays in the series that starts on Monday night at Fenway Park.
From there, it gets tricky. The Sox want to get extra rest for Rodriguez and are planning to start one of the relievers, likely righthander Jonathan Aro, on Friday or Saturday.
Over the remaining 14 games, Lovullo expects to need two bullpen days. To respect the integrity of the playoff race, the Sox do not want one of the bullpen games coming against the Yankees during the four-game series that starts Sept. 28.
“We would like to avoid that but it might not be possible,” Lovullo said. “That’s something we were just discussing.”
Ortiz’s walk in the fifth inning was his 575th plate appearance of the season. That guaranteed his contract at $15 million for 2016. To max out at $16 million, Ortiz needs 600 plate appearances, or 23 in the remaining 14 games . . . The three-game series drew 141,284 fans. The Jays have sold out seven consecutive home games . . . Ryan Hanigan has played only one of the last eight games but is expected to start on Monday. He jammed his surgically repaired right hand against Baltimore on Tuesday when a high-and-tight pitch knocked him off his feet . . . The Red Sox have averaged 6.08 runs in their last 34 games after averaging 4.23 in the first 114 . . . Dustin Pedroia was 2 for 5 and is 14 of 38 (.368) in eight games since coming off the disabled list . . . When the Red Sox came back to beat the Blue Jays, 7-6, on Saturday, a little history was made. It was the first time since Sept. 29, 1944, that a team won for the first time when trailing after eight innings against an opponent that had not lost when leading after eight innings so late in the season. The Sox had been 0-65 when trailing after eight innings, the Blue Jays 73-0 when leading.