In two ways Thursday night, Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Boston Red Sox made a better play in the outfield than Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes did earlier this week. First off, he got two outs on the same at-bat, turning a double play against the Cleveland Indians that helped Boston win 5-2 at Fenway Park.
Second, he didn't have to boot the ball in order to trap the opponent into making a mistake (although a poor decision by Cleveland's Mike Aviles didn't hurt).
With a runner on first in the seventh inning, Bradley tracked down a well-hit ball by Michael Bourn into the gap, making a running and reaching catch on the warning track in front of the Green Monster that probably was even harder than it looked. Not only did Bradley have to worry about banging into the F.W. Webb billboard and holding onto the ball but, if he doesn't catch it, who knows what kind of funny bounce it takes off the fence? Aviles would have scored for certain (he had rounded second base anticipating a hit dropping in) and Bourn probably reaches third or even home.
Not to fear. Bradley not only caught the ball but, because Aviles had to methodically retrace his steps in order to ensure he touched second on the way back to first, Bradley had time to unleash a strong throw to first base on the rebound. Bradley's throw didn't have the impossible length or the precise accuracy of either of Cespedes's throws against the Angels, but it got the job done, and Brock Holt stepped on the bag to complete the double play before Aviles could return.
Left-hander Jon Lester gave Bradley a high five on the way back to the dugout and, at least for a moment, all was well with the Red Sox.
Unlike their World Series season of 2013, nothing's coming up Milhouse for the Red Sox this year. While they're not out of the playoff hunt because of the overall mediocrity in the league, Boston certainly hasn't played like a contender yet. They have learned a few things about their roster, though. For one, it looks like Bradley Jr. can play a great center field like a senior member of the squad.
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