COMMENTARY | It was quite the debut for Jackie Bradley Jr. Monday afternoon, as the Boston Red Sox opened the season with a win over the New York Yankees. Bradley may not have had a base hit, but his presence was truly felt in the 8-2 victory. The young outfielder showed plenty of poise in the hostile environment of the Bronx as the Sox won their first opening game since 2010 (also against the Yankees).
Jon Lester was solid in his first outing of the year, Jose Iglesias finished with three hits, and the bullpen was brilliant. However, the story of the game was Bradley. It comes as no surprise, considering his spring prowess and the amount of attention his story has received over the past month. While there may have been much debate surrounding his making the team, his debut probably muted some of the critics, at least for now.
Bradley finished the game with three walks, two runs scored, an RBI, and a very timely catch. And, the catch really wasn't the only timely play. Bradley's walk in the second inning helped the Red Sox get on the scoreboard first. It was a very mature at bat. Down 0-2 in the count, Bradley would see seven total pitches before getting the free pass. He would then out run the throw to second on Iglesias' hit which scored a run. Bradley scored later in the inning.
After a strikeout and another walk, Bradley would get his first career RBI in the seventh inning. He hit a soft grounder, which deflected off pitcher Boone Logan's glove right to Robinson Cano. He was thrown out at first, but a run would come home. Bradley would finish the day with another walk in the ninth inning. Shane Victorino drove him in later in the inning. It would be one of the more impressive debuts at that plate, even without actually having a base hit.
It wasn't a busy day in left field for Bradley, who was making his first ever professional start in that position. The play with the most impact came in the bottom of the third when Cano bashed a deep fly ball Bradley's way. The rookie was able to run it down and make the grab around the warning track. It was a significant play early in the game that helped get Lester and the Red Sox out of a jam.
To say it was a successful debut for Bradley would be an understatement. The amount of pressure that was placed on him by the media and Red Sox Nation was indescribable. And that won't change anytime soon. Bradley is getting this opportunity because of injuries and his promising play during spring training. The Red Sox have the best chance to win games with Bradley in the lineup.
It's never too early in baseball. Games in April are as meaningful as those in September. This is something with which Red Sox fans should be very familiar. This is a team that has been dreadful out of the gate for the last three seasons. If Monday's game is any indication of what the next few weeks may be like, Boston should be very confident on the field.
The Red Sox are back in action on Wednesday in the Bronx. It will be an opportunity for Bradley to reach another important milestone, his first career hit.
Chris Sedenka is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports covering the Boston Red Sox.You can listen to his daily radio show on 96.3FM in Portland, ME or at thebigjab.com. He is also the voice of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League.
You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSedenka.
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