By JIMMY GOLEN, AP Sports Writer
BOSTON (AP) _ To Red Sox teammate Jonny Gomes, it doesn’t matter that Xander Bogaerts just turned 21 and had never appeared in a postseason game before this week.
“When you’re between the lines, it hides your age,” Gomes said. “It hides your draft status. It hides your contract.”
Bogaerts walked twice and scored two runs in the Game 4 clincher against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, one night after he entered the game as a Boston pinch-runner and scored the game-tying run. In all, he has appeared in two games in the postseason, scoring three runs with a perfect on-base percentage: 1.000.
All before his first official at-bat.
“I just went up there and tried to get on base,” Bogaerts, who turned 21 on Oct. 1, said on Thursday while the Red Sox waited to learn their AL championship series opponent. “For me, I wanted to reach on base. I didn’t want to hit a homer.”
A highly touted prospect who was called up in August, Bogaerts is a big reason the Red Sox were willing to part with Jose Iglesias in the deal that brought right-hander Jake Peavy to Boston. Bogaerts had 11 hits in 44 regular-season at-bats, but he also walked five times and scored seven runs.
And it was in Game 4 that he showed he was ready.
Bogaerts pinch-hit for Stephen Drew in the seventh inning and laid off a 3-2 pitch to draw a walk. He went to third on a single and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. He walked again in the ninth _ again on a full count _ took second on a wild pitch, went to third when Shane Victorino was hit by a pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly.
“You put it together and you say, `Those little things, they all contribute just as big as a solo home run,” said outfielder Shane Victorino, who did his part by taking two pitches off his body on Tuesday night, the third and fourth times he was hit by a pitch in the four-game series.
Red Sox manager John Farrell was impressed with the way Bogaerts came off the bench to draw a walk and didn’t get impatient.
“He’s very mature,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “He seems calm; he’s controlling the at-bat. Those are things that normally take a long time. It’s pretty rare. There would be a lot of 21-year-olds doing it if they could.”
The Red Sox worked out at Fenway Park on Thursday on the second of three off-days before the start of the best-of-seven AL championship series. They will play the winner of Thursday night’s AL division series Game 5 between the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers.
Farrell said he didn’t expect any changes from the ALDS roster that included 14 hitters and 11 pitchers. Left-hander Felix Doubront, a starter in the regular season who did not pitch in the previous round, will again be available in long relief.
Farrell said there were no injuries in the ALDS that would lead him to change the roster. None of the pitchers was overtaxed in the four-game series, especially with three days off to rest for the next round.
The Red Sox manager stayed away from rooting for one team over the other, saying “either team that we’re going to play is going to be another steep challenge.” But that doesn’t mean it makes no difference who the Red Sox play.
The closest John Farrell would come to expressing a preference between Oakland and Detroit is to note that one is kind of far away.
“(There’s) four and a half hours less travel time for one,” he said.
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