Red Sox: Jackie Bradley extends hitting streak to 24 games


Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. has extended his hitting streak to 24 games, putting him on the verge of historic territory.

Jackie Bradley waited until the 9th inning to get it done, but he did it. The Boston Red Sox center fielder rifled a one-out single up the middle to extend his hitting streak to 23 games in Game 1 of Wednesday’s double-header against the Kansas City Royals.

Bradley represented the tying run, but he was immediately wiped out on a fielder’s choice, which was followed by Hanley Ramirez flying out to center to end the game, as the Red Sox fell 3-2. The team’s hopes of winning the series ended that inning, but Bradley’s streak lives on.

It wouldn’t take nearly as long for Bradley to keep the streak going in the second game of the twin-billing, as he connected on a two-out solo home run in the second inning to bring his streak to an impressive 24 games.

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He would add an eighth inning single that helped move Josh Rutledge into position to score one batter later, tacking on another run in the Red Sox 5-2 victory. It was the ninth time Bradley has produced a multi-hit game during his torrid streak, which has seen him hit .407 (37-91) with 17 extra-base hits and 28 RBI.

For the season, Bradley has raised his average to .338, which ranks fourth in the league and a mere fraction of a point behind teammate Xander Bogaerts for the team lead. He’s also tied for third in the league with 32 RBI, fourth with a .997 OPS, and fifth with 21 extra-base hits. Not too shabby for a guy that most of us were worried would never hit in the big leagues at this time last year.

The sensational run that Bradley is on isn’t lost on his manager.

"“No, Jackie’s on our radar for sure,” manager John Farrell told the Boston Herald’s Steve Buckley. “It’s not the number of games he’s consecutively hit in. He’s in a good place. You love to see the at-bats he’s taking. He’s doing it against very good pitching… this isn’t the result of poor pitching he’s doing it against.”"

Bradley is riding the longest hitting streak in the majors, but where does he place from a historical standpoint? In terms of franchise history, he’s about to enter rarefied territory.

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Bradley is 10 games away from tying the franchise record of 34 games, set in 1949 by Dom DiMaggio, the younger brother of Joe DiMaggio, who holds the major league record with a 54-game hitting streak. The elder DiMaggio’s streak is one of those records that we’ll likely never see broken, but Bradley could still make a run at the franchise record set by “The Little Professor.”

The 24-game hit streak is the longest by a Red Sox player since David Ortiz hit in 27 straight games in 2013. Which, by the way, is a shocking streak in itself. When a slugger with the resume of Ortiz gets that hot, wouldn’t there be at least one game where the opposing team walks him every trip he makes to the plate? They certainly aren’t giving him anything good to hit. Bradley obviously doesn’t have nearly the same reputation, so pitchers are only recently learning that they need to be cautious with him.

If he can surpass Ortiz’s streak then Bradley will be on the verge of a 30-game hit streak. What’s the relevance of that? After DiMaggio, only two other hitters in Red Sox history have had a 30-game hit streak – Hall of Famer Tris Speaker in 1912 and Nomar Garciaparra during his epic Rookie of the Year campaign in 1997.

Can Bradley join that exclusive group in Red Sox history? The way he’s swinging the bat lately, you can’t count him out. It also helps that he doesn’t seem to be feeling the pressure of the streak, or at least he’s not showing it if he is. When the topic comes up, Bradley is quick to deflect the conversation back to the team.

"“Any time we can get ahead on a team… we’re glad to get a win in this place,” said Bradley following Wednesday night’s win in Kansas City. “It’s about helping the team out.”"

Bradley certainly is doing his part to help the team out. He’s a big part of why the Red Sox are the highest scoring team in the majors, with 240 runs in 41 games. Just about everyone in this lineup is clicking right now, which makes it all the more impressive that Bradley is able to stand out among the rest.

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It remains to be seen how many more consecutive games Bradley will get a hit in, but here’s something we do know for certain. JBJ can hit, as this streak has erased any concerns to the contrary.