Throw to plate caps double play on balanced day for Boston outfielder
By Alec Shirkey
BOSTON -- Throughout Jackie Bradley Jr.'s career, few have questioned his prowess in the field or the athletic gifts at his disposal. The Red Sox outfielder's offensive ability has often been a different story.
On Thursday, Bradley's success on both ends of the spectrum counted as one of the few positives in Boston's 8-6 loss to the Orioles at Fenway Park. And perhaps more impressively for Bradley, the former top prospect's display came on the same day he was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket after he spent more than a month in the Minors.
Bradley's defensive highlight came on a head-turning throw to home plate. While the Sox trailed by two runs with one out in the top of the ninth, O's outfielder Steve Pearce flied out to Bradley, and David Lough decided to test Bradley's arm by trying to tag up and score from third.
Bradley let loose and fired the ball to catcher Blake Swihart just in time to complete an impressive inning-ending double play.
"It was one of those plays where I was able to build some momentum, because he hit it in front of me," Bradley said. "I got behind it and tried to make an accurate throw as quick as I could."
"Great play; his defense has always spoken for itself," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
Bradley also tallied two hits to snap an 0-for-30 slump at the plate that dated back to last September. The contact-reliant speedster began by beating out shortstop J.J. Hardy's throw for an infield single in the fourth.
Then, in the ninth inning, Bradley got his bat on a 1-1 fastball from Baltimore closer Zach Britton and watched it bounce over first baseman Chris Parmelee's head for another hit.
"More than anything, he gets a ground-ball base hit to maybe take a deep breath a little bit and then, against one of the better relievers in baseball, he gets a fastball to the pull side for a base hit," Farrell said. "Hopefully, this is a chance for him to jump-start some confidence and feel as though he belongs."
For Bradley, who more or less finds himself at a career crossroads, the performance could be a sign of things to come.
"I just try to play for today; I don't focus on the past," Bradley said. "It feels good to help the team as much as I can."
Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.