OAKLAND — It couldn’t have been more perfect if this was a classic baseball movie.
Xander Bogaerts entered home plate in the top of the fourth inning. He saw two players within four seams of A starter James Kaprielian, one down and inside, the other barely outside. The third pitch, however, was just over the heart of the plate — and Bogaerts squared it, throwing it deep into left field for a solo shot.
Fittingly, Bogaerts drove in the first and final innings of Boston’s 7-2 win over Oakland, going 2-for-5 with three RBIs. The circuit itself wasn’t otherworldly – 389ft, 102.8mph at the start – but it perfectly highlighted a historic night for Bogaerts.
With his departure on Friday night, Bogaerts has now played 1,094 career games at shortstop, breaking a franchise record that stood for more than a century. He passed Everett Scott, who played for the Red Sox from 1914 to 1921. Bogaerts and Scott are currently tied for the most career starts.
“It means a lot to us,” manager Alex Cora said. “We will wait for the celebration tomorrow because tomorrow is another big day for him.
“To show up every day means a lot to us, it means a lot to his teammates. It means a lot to the city of Boston.”
Ask around the Red Sox clubhouse, and one word comes up repeatedly to describe what Bogaerts means to this club: consistency.
“What defines him is consistency,” said centre-back Kiké Hernández. “He’s as consistent as it gets, and I would say it’s both on and off the court – at home plate, on defense, at the clubhouse, the same guy every day.”
Bogaerts has long been a Boston staple. He signed with the Red Sox as an amateur free agent from Aruba in 2009 and made his Major League debut four years later, playing 18 games in the 2013 regular season. the magical World Series run from Boston this fall that Bogaerts has become indispensable in the roster — and he hasn’t looked back.
It’s not just the number of games that stands out for Bogaerts’ feat – it’s also that he did it at shortstop. Shortstop is a grueling position, and there was initially doubt that Bogaerts plays it every day at the Majors.
“When I arrived there was a lot of talk, maybe I have to change my position,” Bogaerts said. “I have to give huge credit to the coaching staff and obviously the organization for believing in me and giving me this opportunity.”
Four Silver Sluggers, three All-Star selections and two World Series rings later, Bogaerts is more reliable than ever. In 2022, he leads the American League shortstops with 33 points and is second in extra hits with 20, behind only Toronto’s Bo Bichette. His 62 hits lead all MLB shortstops.
And what does Bogaerts think of his numbers so far?
Probably not much, Cora said. A remarkable quality is that Bogaerts always strives to be better. In 51 games this season, Bogaerts has reduced .325/.394/.492, good for the team’s third-best OPS. He won’t sing his own praises, but Cora is more than happy to do it for him.
“He’s just a humble kid who likes to win games. He did his part – hit the home run, hit the double, played solid defense,” Cora said. “There’s only one man in the big leagues who can say his shortstop is Xander Bogaerts, and that’s me. And I’m proud of that.”
The feeling is shared between Bogaerts teammates. Although he’s only 29, Bogaerts is the longest-serving member of the Red Sox, and teammates — old and new, young and old — say they look up to him on and off the court.
“What you see is what you get,” Bogaerts said. “It’s very cool for these guys to see this and talk like this.”
Christian Vázquez, who has played alongside Bogaerts since they were teammates at the Minors in 2011, summed up the impact of club leaders like Bogaerts in a few simple words.
“When they leave,” he said, “we leave.”