A Red Sox tale of two grand slams: Betts and Bogaerts

 

Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts electrified the Boston Red Sox faithful with grand slam home runs. I would give the edge to Bogaerts, but Bogaerts also has a chance to tie the team single-season record.

The excitement index has reached a crescendo in two games that managed to bookend a depressing pitching meltdown. Certain hits are a joy to watch such as a triple or inside the park home run.  A grand slam is not a rarity like hitting for the cycle or tossing a no-hitter, but they can have a bounty of drama attached.

The Mookie Betts grand slam on Friday night was an emotional almost ten-minute at-bat. Baseball is a unique sport – much like boxing – where it is a mano a mano battle. Lefty J.A. Happ and Betts squaring off early in a contest. Key elements are attached with an almost great catch by Justin Smoak almost ended the story with an over the shoulder grab.

The at-bat will be a Red Sox legend for future generations. A 13 pitch triumph when Betts launched a low inside fastball over the fabled Green Monster. It will be dramatized as the years pass by with it becoming a “game winner” and whatever else Red Sox creative minds can concoct. The grand slam was the impetus for an eventual Red Sox victory, but it happened in just the fourth inning. This game had a nail-biting finish.

The Red Sox are hitting grand slams this season. In recent history, the Red Sox have had some notable grand slams.  Daniel Nana hit one in his first major league at-bat and on the very first pitch. Nomar Garciaparra hit two in a game at Fenway Park. Bill Mueller hit two in a game – one for each side of the plate – the only hitter ever to do that.

The All-Time grand slam leader is Alex Rodriguez (25), but I would add an asterisk.  For the Red Sox, it is no surprise that Ted Williams (17) tops the list. Manny Ramirez (21), is ahead of TSW, but not all were as a Red Sox. The Red Sox single-season leader is none other than Babe Ruth with four in 1919.

Xander Bogaerts’ dramatic walk-off grand slam was his third of the season so XB has a respectable shot at the team record. With his three Bogaerts has some Hall of Fame players he has matched.  Jimmie Foxx, Carl Yastrzemski, and Williams. Several others also have three and I will leave it at Dick Stuart being one.

The Bogaerts grand slam certainly didn’t have the emotional 13 pitch at-bat, but it was more dramatic. The culmination of a gritty comeback in a game that appeared to be headed directly for the loss column. The set-up was also interesting as a key component was an error at short with one out to start the foundation.

Bogaerts just had to drive the ball.  A relatively medium range flay ball would have been a walk-off material with the mercurial Betts at third. Bogaerts launched it to the flagpole – a flagpole that at one time was open game to a ball being hit. This was a home run most needed with a paper-thin lineup and a bullpen that was gassed. Betts grand slam was nice, but Bogaerts’ far more important.

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About Rick McNair

Born in Boston and have lived in the area all my life but not as a Red Sox fan. My first game was actually at Braves Field where I saw a very young Eddie Matthews hit a home run. The Braves left and I quickly switched loyalties. I enjoy discussing the Red Sox past and the connection of that past to the present. I will often bring in remembrances of that into posts. As a retired teacher I have the time to occasional travel to foreign baseball soil and love meeting up with other fans of RSN on the road. I am also a fan of the NY Football Giants (via NJ) - a dwindling breed in Massachusetts.
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