There’s been a bit of “yeah . . . but . . .” criticism leveled at Xander Bogaerts’ way over the course of his young career.
By and large, it goes a little something like this: Yeah, Bogaerts can hit for average, but for the No. 3 hitter in the lineup, shouldn’t he be hitting more home runs?
Last night, however, that supposedly constructive critique went silent right after Bogaerts’ two-run home run in the first inning was the catalyst to another dominant offensive showing by the Red Sox, 11-1 winners over Houston at Fenway Park.
For Bogaerts, it was just his third homer of the season and 10th going back to 2015, he even seemed a little perplexed at how it happened.
“I wasn’t looking to hit a home run at all,” he said of the only first-inning homer of his career. “That was the last thing I expected right there. I mean, I put the bat on the ball and it went over.”
It looked about as nonchalant as Bogaerts described it. The breaking pitch from Houston starter Dallas Keuchel dropped low in the zone, but Bogaerts stayed on it and lifted it over the Green Monster. It wasn’t the type of cannon shot that Mookie Betts pounded in the sixth inning, but it did the job.
Bogaerts’ homer did set the tone for a game that marked the first time in history the Sox have scored eight or more runs with 12 or more hits in six consecutive games at Fenway.
“Bogey got us started in the first,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He went down and got a good breaking ball from Keuchel, and once that happened, we were again putting up quality at-bats throughout the course of the night.”
That’s something Bogaerts has been doing all season, putting up quality at-bats. He was 2-for-5 last night to lift his average at a team-high .331, placing him among the top five in the American League in that statistic.
The lack of power, though, is the ongoing knock on his game, but judging by his reaction to his round-tripper, it did not come from a change in approach.