TORONTO -- Before anyone offers Xander Bogaerts’ tie-breaking error Wednesday night as further proof that the Red Sox should have never moved him to third base, remember that he made game-deciding errors at shortstop too, like the throwing error he made on a cold night in Chicago in April that resulted in a walk-off White Sox win.
But it’s fair to say that the 21-year-old rookie, asked to transition to third two months into the season, has had his fair share of head-hanging moments, which was his reaction Wednesday night when he bounced a throw to first baseman Mike Napoli on what should have been an easy inning-ending play on Jose Reyes’s ground ball in the sixth.
Instead, it allowed Ryan Goins, who had tripled in the tying run, to score the go-ahead run in what would become a 6-4 Blue Jays win, Boston’s second straight loss after a five-game winning streak.
“Reyes was probably still two full body lengths away from the bag,’’ manager John Farrell said. “It was that in-between play. The spin off the bat takes the ball to his backhand side, he fielded the ball in good shape, but it seemed like he didn’t get his feet set to deliver a fine throw.’’
With the Red Sox facing a 12:30 start Thursday, Bogaerts did not linger in the clubhouse after the game, though it’s likely he probably didn’t mind skipping an opportunity to discuss his misplay.
The error spoiled what might have otherwise been a good night for him: two hits, including a two-out RBI double in the fourth (his first double since June 6) that tied the score at 4, and a nice barehanded pickup and throw on Munenori Kawasaki’s sacrifice in the third.
Bogaerts has shown the ability to make reaction plays at third -- he charges the ball well and brings good hands to the position -- but he also has made nine errors in 38 starts at third, five of which have come on throws. In defensive WAR, which represents how many more games a team would win with him at the position rather than an average minor-league replacement, Bogaerts began the night with a minus 1.2.
The advanced defensive metrics weren’t kind to him at short either, assessing him a minus 1.2 at that position, but we’re talking a relatively small sample size at both short and third.
“Recognizing the number of errors, I can’t say there’s exactly one reason that links them all together,’’ Farrell said. “It’s not for [a lack of] effort or intensity in making a play.’’
The Red Sox are not worried that Bogaerts will give them at least average defense at whatever position he ultimately winds up at; his value primarily resides in his bat. And with five hits in 13 at-bats in the first three games of this series, they’re hopeful he’s emerging from what has been a horrific 36-game slump (18-for-136, .132 average entering play Wednesday).