BOSTON -- There are few positives to take away from a dismal homestand that ranks among the worst in Red Sox history. However, if there's one thing the Sox can take joy in over their past six games, it's the positive strides that rookie shortstop Xander Bogaerts has shown at the plate.
After driving in three of the team's 11 runs in the first five games of the homestand, Bogaerts tacked on another RBI with a solo home run in Thursday's 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays. The home run was Bogaerts' second of the homestand and third of the season.
"I've been hitting the ball hard, right at people, so it's good to get one where no one's at," Bogaerts said.
No one but the Lansdowne Street parking lot attendant whom TV cameras caught dancing with said home run ball in hand. It took Bogaerts 31 career home games to hit his first round-tripper at Fenway on Saturday evening against Detroit, but only four more games to collect his second Fenway homer on Thursday. The 21-year-old said that adjusting to Fenway's quirky factors, particularly the Green Monster in left, is something he's had trouble with up to this point in his career.
"That wall there, my hips tend to fly open so I had to work," Bogaerts said. "Before this homestand, I struggled a lot at Fenway because of that wall. Opening up early, knowing that the wall is right there, it can mess with you as a hitter."
After the Red Sox's previous homestand, when he went 5-for-25 (four singles and one double), Bogaerts worked with hitting coach Greg Colbrunn and assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez in Texas to fine-tune his approach at the plate. After struggling in Arlington (1-for-11 in the series vs. the Rangers), Bogaerts carried the adjustments into Minnesota, where he went 4-for-13 with a double and a triple.
Bogaerts said he finally knew things were clicking in his last at-bat of the Minnesota series, a fly out to right fielder Chris Parmelee.
"Last out of that series I hit a line drive opposite field and that was a feeling that I know it had to be," Bogaerts said. "Came back home and that's when we really worked on it, this homestand, first game here."
Overall, Bogaerts went 9-for-20 during the six games against Detroit and Toronto. He slugged two home runs, hit two doubles, collected four RBIs in his past five games after going 17 consecutive games without driving in a run, and has now reached base in 10 straight games.
A bright spot indeed on a team in desperate need of a spark.