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Monday, March 31, 2014
Bogaerts blown a bit off course

By Gordon Edes

BALTIMORE -- Xander Bogaerts had no doubt that his first at-bat of 2014 had resulted in a home run.

“I definitely did,’’ Bogaerts said. “I got all of that one.’’

Xander Bogaerts
Xander Bogaerts doubled in the sixth, but his warning-track out in the second stuck with him.
It sounded like a home run. It looked like one coming off his bat, a line drive crushed to left field with two runners on in the second inning.

But Bogaerts never got to break out his home run trot. The ball died just short of the left-field fence in the glove of Nelson Cruz, a victim of a capricious breeze that by Bogaerts’ count kept four Red Sox drives on the premises.

“Mine, one by Papi, one by Pedey, one by A.J.’’ he said, ticking off drives that expired on the warning track by David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and A.J. Pierzynski.

“When I was on-deck,’’ he said, “I threw up some grass, and it was blowing to left field, but I guess it changed while I was hitting because I got all of that.’’

The 21-year-old Bogaerts later doubled to right and walked on an afternoon in which he became the youngest Sox shortstop on Opening Day since Everett Scott in 1914.

Two balls did leave the yard Monday: The one hit by Grady Sizemore to lead off the fourth inning, and the drive that Cruz hit to left in the seventh off Jon Lester, which broke a 1-1 tie and proved to be the winning run. The wind had abated by then, Bogaerts said, or shifted directions again. It certainly proved no impediment to Cruz, who signed with the Orioles after camp opened in late February.

The Sox were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left a dozen runners on base. Manager John Farrell said he was trying to manufacture the tying run when he had Jackie Bradley Jr. run for Mike Napoli in the eighth. He knew there was a chance Bradley would come around to bat in Napoli’s spot in the ninth, but with Orioles closer Tommy Hunter so tough on righties (.141 average against), he said he didn’t second-guess the decision.

Farrell also was asked about not batting for Pierzynski against lefty Brian Matusz in the eighth. He said he didn’t consider it, even with Jonny Gomes available. Pierzynski had a solid .279/.318/.400/.718 slash line against lefties last season.

“A.J. is going to give you a good at-bat against righties and lefties,’’ said Farrell, who doesn’t look like he’ll be embracing the idea of hitting for Pierzynski in the late innings.

Pierzynski rolled out to Matusz with two runners on to end the eighth.