Xander Bogaerts had no idea he was on the brink of reaching 1,400 hits until it was brought to his attention Friday afternoon.
He had no idea that he was on the verge of joining Carl Yastrzemski, Bobby Doerr, and Jim Rice as the only players in Red Sox history to reach that 1,400-hit mark before turning 30.
It’s never quite been about the milestones to Bogaerts. Sure, he wants to do well, but his purpose in this game is to show up every day and win. The winning piece in all of this hasn’t happened this year.
But the showing-up piece is still present. Even now as he nurses a cranky back, it’s hard for manager Alex Cora to pull his star shortstop off the field.
That’s how the numbers end up piling up for Bogaerts. Talent, sure. But presence, too, which is rooted in his character.
With the Sox trailing, 1-0, in Sunday’s series finale against the Royals, Bogaerts did not waste any time joining the triad of Hall of Famers who came before him, drilling an RBI double off the Green Monster in left-center to tie the contest.
“I feel like, for me, this is special,” Bogaerts said. “On a personal level, I feel like I came a long way since I played my first year in the Dominican Summer League [in 2010]. It’s crazy, man. I still feel great.”
It was one of Bogaerts’s two hits. It came in a convincing 13-3 Sox win, solidifying a series victory.
Collectively, the Sox racked up 20 hits. But none meant more than Bogaerts’s first one of the day.
“He got a good pitch to hit after fouling off a few,” Sox manager Alex Cora said. “The last few weeks have been impressive, driving the ball, taking what they give them and being more selective in certain counts. Obviously we love the fact that he plays every day. But it’s the way he goes about it. I always said he’s the most consistent person in this organization. It’s fun to watch.”
Nick Pivetta, who was just OK, went five innings, striking out seven. The righthander allowed seven hits and three runs which included a Salvador Perez solo shot in the fifth.
The Sox hitters banged up the Royals pitching from top to bottom. Every hitter in the starting lineup registered at least one hit and seven of the Sox’ nine hitters recorded two hits or more each. Tommy Pham and Reese McGuire had three hits, Rafael Devers had four.
“It’s just the way the game goes, right?” Cora said. “We go through stretches but if you keep the quality of the at-bats good things are going to happen. The first game of the series, although we didn’t get too many hits, we walked a lot. And today, the sacrifice flies, moving guys over. Just running around.”
The Sox (71-75) will travel to Cincinnati for a two-game series with the Reds beginning Tuesday. They have 16 consecutive games in as many days to finish off the season.
Within those games is another feat Bogaerts could achieve: a batting title. He’s hitting .316, tied with the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who could win a Triple Crown, for second in the American League. They’re just a point behind the Twins’ Luis Arraez.
He’s not the one to keep tabs on his stats, but with this one, at this juncture in the year, he’s earned the right to peek at those numbers. It’s keeping him locked in.
“Yeah it is,” Bogaerts said. “I’m not going to lie to you. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. A couple of weeks ago I wasn’t even in the conversation. It’s within reach.”
It’s a lost year for the Red Sox, highlighted by injury, underperformance, and acquisitions by the front office that did not work out. Bogaerts has just seven games left at Fenway before he opts out and becomes a free agent.
He hasn’t given much thought, he said, about perhaps it being his last time in a Sox uniform. He hasn’t fathomed that part yet. It’s too soon.
One thing is certain, though. He’s going to show up.