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Bogaerts' September resurgence continues

BOSTON -- The games no longer matter, as the Red Sox's 10-6 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday afternoon officially eliminated Boston from postseason contention. But for rookie Xander Bogaerts, the rest of the season couldn't be more important.

After several months of struggling at the plate, Bogaerts put together a strong showing during this six-game Red Sox homestand. The 21-year-old went 10-for-25 against the Toronto Blue Jays and Orioles, including a 2-for-5 showing at the plate Wednesday that featured his second home run in as many days.

Perhaps most important for Bogaerts was that he hit out of the second spot in the lineup for the first time since June 23.

"I'm swinging the bat pretty good," Bogaerts said. "Hitting the ball hard. Hopefully that continues."

Few things have come easy for Bogaerts this season. After getting off to a strong start at the plate through May, Bogaerts hit a wall from June through August. He managed to put together a .161 average over that three-month span, striking out in 29 percent of his at-bats.

"That was tough three-month stretch," Bogaerts simply put it.

Throughout the season Bogaerts has worked with hitting coaches Greg Colbrunn and Victor Rodriguez to fine-tune his swing, crediting the two with helping him adjust to get into the groove that he's in now. He's also seeing the ball much better at the plate, striking out only five times so far this month.

"Much improved," manager John Farrell said of Bogaerts. "Much more balance and rhythm at the plate consistent with when we saw him last year and in earlier stretches this year. He's not lunging as much as he was for a period of time."

In 10 games this month, Bogaerts has hit .375 with three home runs and seven RBIs. He's collected hits in eight of his past 11 games going back to Aug. 31 and put together three straight multihit efforts in a series against the Orioles that saw little offense from the Red Sox before a five-run ninth inning on Wednesday.

In fact, before their ninth-inning rally, the Red Sox had scored just three runs total in their past four games. Bogaerts drove in all three of them.

"I'm just trying to get back to who I am, the kind of player that I am," Bogaerts said. "Just going out there, having fun and trying to put up good at-bats after each other."

Bogaerts' hot stretch at the plate couldn't come at a better time for the Red Sox, as the effects of losing second baseman Dustin Pedroia to season-ending surgery have already begun to show. Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen retired the first 16 Red Sox batters he faced before catcher Dan Butler doubled in the bottom of the sixth for his first major league hit.

Although the offense did find success in the ninth inning against Baltimore reliever Joe Saunders, things figure to remain difficult heading into a four-game series this weekend against the Kansas City Royals and their pitching staff, which ranks fourth in the AL.

Sure, the wins and losses won't matter anymore. But the progress Bogaerts continues to show at the plate will continue to have a profound impact on how he's viewed heading into 2015.

"I'm just trying to end the season strong and end on a positive note," Bogaerts said.