In possible Red Sox finale, Xander Bogaerts got the moment he deserved

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Very rarely does baseball deliver predictable fairy-tale endings. Oftentimes, that is the beauty of the game, riding the roller coaster of unpredictability, for better or worse.

The conditions - both weather-wise and in the American League East standings - for the final games of the 2022 Red Sox season are the latest example.

In a perfect world, Xander Bogaerts is riding into Game 162 with contract extension in hand, getting ready for another postseason run under sunny skies.

Nope. For now, Tuesday night's grand slam will have to do.

In what very well might be his second-to-last game as a member of the Red Sox - with the opportunity to opt-out of his current deal after season's end - Bogaerts launched his 93rd career Fenway Park over the left field wall for a grand slam in his final at-bat of the night.

"I mean, sometimes stuff is meant to be," Bogaerts said after the Red Sox' rain-shortened 5-0 win over the Rays. "Obviously, Raffy (Devers) is not a guy that gets a lot of walks and he worked that at-bat and got a walk. I just kind of had a feeling. I wasn’t swinging it right but I just had a feeling that everything was kind of lined up, two more games for the season to end. It was the same thing in Oakland when I broke the record for the most games. Something good is going to happen. I was telling Rich (Hill), I can’t swing at a slider in the middle the whole day from Springs and I swung at that one. It went far. Probably can’t repeat that swing but it’s a good thing I swung."

He little later he reiterated, "As I said, it just felt like something was going to happen. I’m not saying I was going to hit a grand slam but at least a sac fly or maybe a double and bring in some runs. Obviously that situation, bases loaded, you can get amped up. For some reason, right after Raffy got that walk, just like I said, it just felt like everything is aligned for something nice to happen. I was thinking of a grand slam but you just had a good feeling like something nice would happen."

Now we wait to see exactly what the moment truly means.

Will Bogaerts get a chance to one-up the homer in Game 162? And will be remembering such moments with the shortstop playing in different uniform come next season?

Welcome to the fork-in-the-road we all knew was coming.

"It’s been a lot of years I’ve been here," he said. "I enjoy every moment and I appreciated the fans, the ups and downs, dealing with you guys, especially sometimes you don’t want to after some rough games. It’s hard. For the most part, you guys always treated me with respect and I felt like I did the same way to you guys also. I mean, I’m proud of the man I’ve become. I remember coming here as a little kid and I was afraid to be on the field in the postseason. I remember, I just always wanted to be on the bench and watch the games. I hit that double in Detroit and (MIke ) Napoli was like, 'Hey, you’re going to play the next day,' and I was like, 'Bro, I don’t want to play the next day.' I walked by the office and John (Farrell) was like, 'Hey, come here, kid,' I’m like, '(Expletive)!' And he’s like, 'You’re playing tomorrow.' I’ve come a long way from not wanting to be in the lineup to being in the lineup and helping the team.

“For me, this year has been extremely tough for me personally. I’ve said it multiple times. Winning, we haven’t won many games this year so that definitely didn’t help. Just losing and a lot of uncertainty at the trade deadline. We were in there, we weren’t, so there was a lot going on this year. Obviously, the way I’ve been playing and the contract stuff and having to talk about it pretty much throughout the whole year, taking attention away from the team. If we were winning, I feel like it would have been much easier for me but that’s not the case and I feel like that’s how I have to handle it. It’s a long season, man. A lot of guys in there that finished the season strong. A lot of guys. Who knows what’s going to happen with them also in our locker room with free agency and stuff like that? Guys who might come back, guys who won’t, and you can ask anyone in there, they all enjoyed their time here and sometimes it can be a lot but in the end, it’s about winning and the people appreciate that in this city, especially if they’re doing a good job."

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