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Bogaerts delivers in PawSox debut06/15/2013 12:43 AM ET
By Jonathan Raymond / Special to MLB.com
It's a sight many in Boston eagerly await, one that is now tantalizingly close in Pawtucket, R.I.
That sight is Xander Bogaerts hitting a towering home run.
The Red Sox's top prospect launched his first Triple-A home run in just his second game with Pawtucket, which rallied for an 8-7 victory over Buffalo and a sweep of Friday's doubleheader.
Across the two games, Bogaerts went 3-for-7 with a walk, two RBIs and two runs scored. He agreed his first home run would be memorable but said it was actually his first hit in the opener that would leave the biggest mark for him.
"I would say it was better to get the first hit. It was only an infield hit in the first game, but once you get the first one out of the way you're a little more relaxed, you know," he said. "I just tried to keep the same approach from Portland [in my debut] and it worked out well."
Bogaerts' arrival in Pawtucket adds to the star power in a lineup that already features Jackie Bradley Jr., the Red Sox's No. 2 prospect, and seventh-ranked prospect Bryce Brentz.
It was that lineup that rallied for five runs in the bottom of the seventh in the nightcap to force extra innings Jeremy Hazelbaker hit a walk-off single in the ninth.
"I don't know if they've done that before this year, but wow, what a way to come back," Bogaerts said. "They don't give up, don't give away at-bats up here, I realized. They grind them out, try to get on base no matter the score or the situation.
"From one to nine, it's a lot of trouble for pitchers. They don't wanna throw to the guy in front of you or in back of you, so they have to throw strikes to everyone, no matter who is behind you. The five runs in that [seventh] inning was pretty special."
The buzz surrounding Bogaerts grew last season after he hit 20 homers, drove in 81 runs and posted an .896 OPS across two levels at the age of 19. It's only grown this year. The native of Aruba needed 56 games with Double-A Portland to earn another promotion. He hit .311/.407/.502 with six homers, six triples, 12 doubles and 35 RBIs for the SeaDogs.
With Portland and Pawtucket well within New England's boundaries, Bogaerts has had a small taste of the atmosphere that will greet him in Boston. The outlook that's served him well, he said, whether playing more advanced competition or simply under more scrutiny, has been to filter everything but baseball.
"I didn't want to have no expectations. I just always try to go out there and have fun, play the right way," he said. "Once you put expectations on yourself, it might start to go downhill and you put more pressure on yourself. There are a lot of fans at the games, you hear your name a lot, but you try to block all of it out and keep focusing on the baseball.
"It's what I've done all my life. Growing up, enjoying every moment of it. That's the best way you can play and that's when I'm at my best."
In Friday's opener, Allen Webster allowed one hit over six innings before the PawSox posted a 1-0 win. Boston's second-ranked pitching prospect issued one walk and struck out six without factoring into the decision as he lowered his ERA to 2.98 in 10 International League starts.
"Wow, he's so nasty," Bogaerts said. "[Threw] all of his off-speed stuff for strikes, keeping the ball down in the zone. That was the first time I think I saw him pitch live, being out on the field, so it was great to see."
Bogaerts singled with two outs in the seventh, stole second and scored the winning run on Alex Hassan's base hit.