Bogaerts home runs to help Boston part ways with Guardians
Xander Bogaerts was listening when Red Sox chiefs said they weren’t shopping him at the trade deadline.
“I think I started playing better after that, right?” he said after hitting a three-run homer to lead Boston to a 4-2 win over the Cleveland Guardians on Thursday night.
“It’s been (difficult)” in the face of trade rumors, said Bogaerts, a four-time All-Star who is eligible to opt out of his contract and become a free agent this offseason. “But I mean, we’re professionals in the end. You sign up for it. You have to take care of it.
Kutter Crawford scattered three hits in 5 2/3 innings, and Alex Verdugo had a pair of hits to help the Red Sox win for only the fifth time in 20 games. The crisis has led to talk that the team will sell its best players before Tuesday’s trade deadline, including Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers.
But Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters on Wednesday there were no plans to do so. Bogaerts said he also received a similar message in person.
And then on Thursday, he hit his first homer in 19 games. Despite being last in the AL East, the Red Sox are .500 and just 3½ games back in the wild card race. (Cleveland is 2 1/2 games away.)
“It can be very difficult – some days more than others,” Bogaerts said. “But get it over with and keep rolling.”
Guardians starter Triston McKenzie, who had allowed total runs in four previous starts in July, had a one-hitter shutout in the sixth before going two with one out for Bogaerts. The Red Sox shortstop hit an 0-2 slider to center field to turn a one-point deficit into a 3-1 lead.
“It was a huge win for us,” said manager Alex Cora, whose team hadn’t hit a three-run homer since July 7. “We haven’t had one in a while and we can breathe.”
Boston scored another against McKenzie, who hadn’t allowed an extra hit all month, when Franchy Cordero opened the seventh with a brace and scored on Bobby Dalbec’s hard line on the Green Monster.
In all, McKenzie (7-7) allowed six hits and went one of seven innings in his first loss since June 27. He was 3-0 with a sparkling 0.34 ERA in his previous four starts.
Jake Diekman (2-0) picked up the win, striking out each of his four batters. Garrett Whitlock pitched two innings for his third save.
Crawford’s only mistake was a solo home run by José Ramírez in the fourth that sailed over the top of the Pesky Pole.
The ball curled far to the right of the foul post and Cora disputed whether it was fair, but replays yielded no evidence that could tell one way or the other.
CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?
The Red Sox honored broadcaster Joe Castiglione before the game for his 40 years on the air with the team. A surprise guest was Roger Clemens, who was a rookie in 1984, the year after Castiglione made his team radio call-up debut.
Clemens pulled out a replica of the new plaque that marks the “Joe Castiglione Booth” in the Fenway press box.
Castiglione called Clemens’ record 20 strikeouts against Seattle in 1986 and the game he tied the record 10 years later against Detroit. The Connecticut native was also on the mic, exclaiming “Can you believe it?” when the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series to end an 86-year drought.
Before Thursday’s match, he said it again: “Forty years. Can you believe it?”
Goaltenders: OF Oscar González has been rested after going 1-for-5 in two minor league appearances as he tries to recover from abdominal strain. He will make another start for Double-A Akron on Friday.
Red Sox: 2B Trevor Story rested Thursday after feeling pain when he swung a bat Wednesday for the first time since going to IL after being hit by a pitch in the right wrist.
Guardians: RHP Shane Bieber (4-6) takes on Tampa Bay LHP Jeffrey Springs (3-2) when Cleveland and the Rays open a three-game series Friday night.
Red Sox: RHP rookie Brayan Bello (0-2) takes on RHP Brewers Brandon Woodruff (8-3) in Game 1 of a three-game series at Fenway on Friday night.
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