Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. makes amazing game-saving catch
By Sean Penney
Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. saved the game for the Boston Red Sox with a spectacular catch to rob the Baltimore Orioles of a walk-off home run.
Ryan Brasier better be buying Jackie Bradley Jr. dinner after the latest Boston Red Sox victory.
The right-handed reliever entered a tie game in the 11th inning and struck out the first batter he faced. Then Trey Mancini, who knocked in the only run of the game for the Baltimore Orioles, nearly drove in the last one. After Brasier got ahead in the count 0-2, he tried to put the batter away with a fastball down and in. Mancini went down and got it, hammering a fly ball to deep left-center that that appeared destined for the other side of the fence.
Not on my watch, Bradley presumably thought to himself. The Gold Glove Award-winning center fielder made a leaping grab, stretching his arm over the wall to haul the ball back in for the second out of the inning.
Instead of Orioles fans celebrating a dramatic walk-off win, a stunned crowd watched as Brasier retired the side with another strikeout (or at least the small percentage of that crowd that were O’s fans did).
Bradley is having a rough year at the plate, even by his frustratingly streaky standards. With another 0-for-4 performance tonight, JBJ is now hitting a pitiful .142/.240/.170 this season. No matter how poorly he performs at the bottom of the lineup, Bradley could always hang his hat on his elite defense.
Except his glove hasn’t been up to his usual lofty standards. Bradley shockingly entered the day dead last among major league center fielders with -7 defensive runs saved. Advanced defensive metrics can be a bit misleading in small samples but rating as the worst at his position isn’t what anyone expected from Bradley.
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His home run-robbing catch is the perfect example of what it means to save a run with your defense. More than that, Bradley saved the game. He may have a negative DRS but he’s +1 in defensive games saved.
Boston wasted a gem from Chris Sale, who deserved to be credited with a win for his eight innings one one-run ball. The lefty took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and struck out 14 but the Red Sox lineup couldn’t muster enough offense while he was still on the mound. It’s a shame, Sale certainly deserved better, yet providing more run support would have meant this game never reaches extra innings. Which means Bradley isn’t given the chance to make what has been the best defensive play of the season.
Andrew Benintendi would homer in the top of the next inning, turning a 93 mph fastball around the other way deep enough where no Orioles outfielder could reach it. The solo shot proved to be the decisive run and Brasier notched the win but it was the miraculous defensive effort by Bradley that was the key to this victory.
For those wondering why the Red Sox don’t bench the struggling Bradley, jettison him from the roster or at least pinch-hit for him late in a tight game, his game-saving catch is a reminder of the value he brings no matter how ice cold his bat may be.