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Salem's Bogaerts heating up in June06/16/2012 10:35 PM ET
By Sam Dykstra / Special to MLB.com
With one swift move, Xander Bogaerts' night almost ended prematurely.
Bogaerts moved to cover second base on a bunt in the sixth inning, only to find himself slightly in front of the bag and vulnerable to the oncoming Anthony Gallas. The runner clipped Bogaerts' ankle, sending him down in pain.
As Salem trainer David Herrera came out to examine the ankle, Bogaerts -- whose team needed a win to stay alive in the hunt for the Carolina League North Division first-half title, had one thought on his mind.
"I wasn't coming out of the game, no matter what," he said.
The Red Sox were glad he didn't.
Boston's No. 3 prospect went 4-for-4 with two RBIs on Saturday to lift Class A Advanced Salem past Carolina, 8-6.
The four hits tied a career high for Bogaerts, who was 4-for-5 for Class A Greenville last Aug. 8.
The 19-year-old shortstop had singles in the second and third innings, but his biggest hits came in his next two at-bats. After the Mudcats scored four times in the fourth to grab a 5-4 lead, Travis Shaw doubled and Bogaerts drove him in with a single to center field.
Then, with two runners on and the Sox in the seventh -- one inning after the ankle injury -- the Aruba native tied it up again with another run-scoring hit up the middle. Michael Almanzar put Salem in front for good with an RBI single and Shannon Wilkerson provided insurance with a run-scoring single in the eighth.
Given his team's precarious position in the first-half standings, Bogaerts seemed focused on the big picture, not individual statistics.
"We were down twice by one run and all I'm trying to do is just get that run to score so we can tie it up," he said. "I'm just thinking about the team and not worrying about my own stuff. I'm just trying to score a run."
Despite Bogaerts' best efforts, Salem -- which has won seven straight -- was eliminated from the division race as Winston-Salem defeated Wilmington to nail down a playoff berth. Still, he knew his team performed as well as it could have during the stretch run.
"We knew what we had to do," Bogaerts said. "We played our best here and we keep on winning. Hopefully, that's something we can continue to do."
MLB.com's No. 66 overall prospect -- the second-youngest player in the Carolina League -- had been struggling recently. In a four-game stretch from June 11-14, he went 1-for-13 with seven strikeouts. But a two-run homer on Friday ended the slump and put Bogaerts back at ease.
"I felt relieved [after the home run], that's for sure," he said. "But I still came into today like it was a regular day: Just try to be patient at the plate, don't swing at too many pitches, and it worked out again."
Performances like Friday and Saturday have proven to be more of the rule for Bogaerts, who's batting .365 with five homers and 19 RBIs in 19 games this month after hitting .267 with for homers and 23 RBIs through the end of May. He ranks fourth in the Carolina League with 42 RBIs and was one of four Red Sox who'll play in next week's All-Star Game against the California League.
According to the Caribbean teenager, as the temperature goes, so goes his bat.
"Well, my season's going pretty well," he said. "Things are definitely heating up here. Earlier in the season, I was playing in the cold, and that was the first time I had really done that. But as it gets warmer, I'm definitely feeling more comfortable and it's showing."
Shaw, another All-Star, fell a triple shy of the cycle, drove in two runs and scored three times for the Red Sox. Over his last four games, the first baseman is 9-for-16 (.563) with two homers, seven RBIs and seven runs scored.
Giovanny Urshela went 3-for-4 with a solo homer and two runs scored for the Mudcats.