CLEVELAND -- One day it's Rafael Devers. The next it's Xander Bogaerts. The two have been playing Can You Top This? all season, and on Wednesday it was Bogaerts' turn to take center stage.
Just hours after Devers delivered the first 6-for-6, four-double game in major league history, Bogaerts was the star of a 5-1 victory over the Indians, slamming a pair of homers, including the 100th of his career, as part of a three-hit day.
"He played well, and he's the leader," said manager Alex Cora. "We made a commitment early in the season with the guy and you see what he's doing on the field, in the clubhouse."
Bogaerts homered in the third off of All-Star Game MVP Shane Bieber as the second half of a back-to-back with Devers, who stretched his street of plate appearances with a hit to eight before grounding out.
Indians manager Terry Francona understandably decided he had seen enough of Devers when he walked him in the seventh to get to Bogaerts with two on and one out. Bogaerts fell behind in the count 0-and-2 before drilling one out to left to put the game away.
"You feel it, you feel it," Bogaerts said of the intentional walk to get to him. "Obviously you're not trying to hit a homer every time, but you're just trying to at least get a run in or put a good swing, but not to strike out. You'll make them look good on that. I mean, I laid off some tough sliders. He threw a lot of them. That last one, he just left it up and I saw it real well and I swung.
"I mean, last year it was the same thing with J.D. [Martinez]. When I hit behind J.D., they walked him a lot and I had a lot of success with that. This year, I kind of feel that's been with Raffy lately and it's been working well. I guess it definitely gets you going a little bit and understanding that they think you're the weaker guy."
An All-Star earlier this year, Bogaerts continued adding to what is already a career season. He's hitting .308 with 27 homers, 92 RBI, and a .947 OPS.
"He grinds. He plays," Cora saluted. "People don't realize how big he is to play that position. 6-3, 220. You look at Francisco [Lindor], he's shorter and lighter. For him to show up every day, it's not that easy. We gave him a day off last week and he'll have one tomorrow. He's grinding, he's grinding. But one thing for sure, he's not going to give up."
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