Bogaerts: Best pitch was on Berry's steal

BOSTON -- With the game hanging in the balance for the Boston Red Sox, rookie Xander Bogaerts had an opportunity to become a hero.

The Detroit Tigers held a 1-0 lead when Bogaerts, who recently turned 21, stepped into the box with two outs and the potential game-tying run standing on second base. He worked the count full against Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit and the 38,210 in attendance were on their feet.

Bogaerts wasn’t thinking home run. He only wanted to drive the ball and plate the would-be tying run. Instead, he popped up on a 3-2 changeup to Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias to end the game as Detroit gained a 1-0 ALCS lead.

“I definitely feel like I’ve learned from that at-bat until now,” Bogaerts said. “I think my confidence has grown so much. To lay off so many tough pitches against a closer like that in a big situation, my confidence level is pretty high for the next time up.”

The best pitch he saw during the at-bat was when pinch runner Quintin Berry stole second. It was a fastball right down the middle, but Berry got a great jump on Benoit and Bogaerts said there was no way he was going to swing.

“Berry’s got to get into scoring position, so I can’t go up there and swing and get a foul ball or a ground ball,” admitted Bogaerts. “That was a really good pitch to hit, a fastball in, but I just had to let it go.”

Bogaerts was not in the starting lineup and entered the game in the top of the eighth inning after Mike Carp pinch hit for Will Middlebrooks in the seventh. He said he began to get ready in the fifth inning in case he was needed.

His only at-bat came in the bottom of the ninth inning.

“It was a great at-bat,” Bogaerts said. “I laid off some tough pitches and he threw me some good pitches. He had a slider, but I think it was more of a cutter because it cut too fast. It was good game, tough loss but we’ll bounce back tomorrow.”

Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava provided the club’s only hit of the game when he dropped a base hit into shallow left-center field with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning. He was on the bench when Bogaerts came to the plate.

“Bogey had a great at-bat,” Nava said. “You’re asking a 21-year-old to come in and he just missed the ball.”