Red Sox

‘That changed the game’: What Xander Bogaerts said about relay throw to get Aaron Judge out at home

The play kept the Red Sox' lead at 3-1 in the sixth inning when the Yankees were threatening to tie it up in the Wild Card Game.

Xander Bogaerts's throw home to get out Aaron Judge kept the score at 3-1 in the Red Sox' Wild Card Game win over the Yankees. Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff

Xander Bogaerts hit a two-run homer in the Red Sox’ Wild Card Game victory over the Yankees. But that arguably wasn’t his biggest play of the night.

With the Red Sox up 3-1 in the sixth inning, the Yankees were threatening to tie the game up. Two batters after Anthony Rizzo hit a solo homer and with Aaron Judge at first, Giancarlo Stanton hit one into left-center off the Green Monster, appearing to give the Yankees runners in scoring position with one out.

But Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin gave Judge the signal to go home. Centerfielder Kiké Hernández hit Bogaerts, who was the cutoff man, on a one-hop. Bogaerts quickly saw Judge running home, and threw the ball to catcher Kevin Plawecki without a bounce and much movement from Plawecki to field the ball. The throw beat Judge and the Red Sox kept their 3-1 lead.

Advertisement:

That play, at least to Bogaerts, was his best play of the day.

“That was better than the homer, at least to me personally,” Bogaerts said. “If that run scores, it’s 3-2. Stanton’s at second base. The whole momentum is on their side. The dugout is getting pumped up.

“As Judge was out at home, I saw Stanton pretty mad. He probably wanted a homer there, but also an RBI. And he didn’t get that, so he probably felt like he didn’t do much because that run didn’t score. That changed the game, regardless of all the homers [we hit] and the walks we took. The momentum changed their, big time.”

Joey Gallo popped out to third in the next at-bat, ending the Yankees’ threat. It was the last time New York had the tying run at the plate for the rest of the night.

Bogaerts’s solid night began in the first inning. Hitting cleanup, he got a chance to hit in the first inning after Rafael Devers drew a two-out walk. With a 2-1 count against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, he got an 88 mph changeup over the heart of the plate.

That ball quickly left the yard as Bogaerts drilled it 427 feet to center.

Advertisement:

“I wasn’t particularly looking for a changeup,” Bogaerts said. “He threw me three offspeed pitches so I was looking for an offspeed pitch, something more like a slider. But I guess I was on time for the changeup. It stayed pretty middle. I was lucky he didn’t throw a fastball because he probably would’ve blown my hands up. I was looking for something soft because the first few pitches were something soft.”

While Bogaerts wasn’t necessarily expecting to hit a homer in that spot, he thought it was a good jumping point for him and the Red Sox.

“I think it was a nice way to get the game started,” Bogaerts said. “Obviously, I wasn’t predicting a homer. But being up 2-0, I think it gave Eovaldi some nice breathing room. And he dominated the game after that.”

Bogaerts’s homer set the tone for Cole’s night. Cole gave up a hard-hit double to Plawecki in the second and in the third, he gave up another home run, this time to Kyle Schwarber. In the next two at-bats, Cole gave up a single and a walk.

With Bogaerts up next, Boone took out Cole and with that, the $324 million pitcher’s day was done without even recording an out in the third inning.

“I mean, obviously without their ace, that’s the best pitcher they’ve got. That’s the guy they gave all that money to. He’s their ace,” Bogaerts said on the Red Sox’ excitement on getting Cole out of the game quickly.

Advertisement:

Boston’s bats were able to add three more runs against New York’s bullpen, and Bogaerts played a role in all three of them. In the sixth, he drew a walk against starter-turned-reliever Luis Severino. In the next at-bat, Alex Verdugo hit a double along the right-field line. Third base coach Carlos Febles was indecisive on whether to send Bogaerts home. But after making a key play to get a runner out at home earlier in the inning, Bogaerts scored a key insurance run by beating the relay throw home.

In the seventh, Bogaerts’s two-out walk extended the Red Sox inning, loading the bases for Verdugo. For a second straight inning, Verdugo took advantage, knocking in two runs on a base hit to left, expanding the Red Sox’ lead to 6-1.

“Anyone that came out of the bullpen [after Cole] isn’t any easier [to face],” Bogaerts said. “Everyone coming out of that bullpen is throwing 95-plus. So, we’ve just got to try to keep the same approach because those guys are pretty good also.”

With the Yankees in the rearview mirror, the Red Sox’ season continues. After missing the playoffs the last two years, the Red Sox are back in the ALDS and will face the Rays starting on Thursday.

Bogaerts is enjoying being back in the playoffs again.

“We have a lot of guys that have playoff experience. We have some guys that are experiencing this for the first time. It’s a moment that I think you should enjoy,” Bogaerts said. “I came up in my first year and thought it would’ve been like this the whole time. It took a while to make it back to the postseason after that.

Advertisement:

“You’ve got to enjoy the moment. This was definitely a really tough game. One-and-out. I never played in a game like this. Playing against Gerrit Cole at home playing against Gerrit Cole at Fenway, is much different.”

Jump To Comments

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com