Bradley's skills on display in pair of defensive gems
Rookie throws out O's runner at plate, makes leaping grab at wall in center field
BOSTON -- Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park turned into the Jackie Bradley Jr. show.
While the Red Sox took a 7-6 loss in 12 innings to the Orioles, Boston's rookie center fielder saved two runs in the series finale, one with his arm and one with his glove.
The first play came in the seventh inning with runners on the corners and one out for the O's. Manny Machado, who stood on third base as Caleb Joseph hit a fly ball to center field, decided to test Bradley's arm.
The center fielder fired a bullet home, gunning down Machado for the double play and his 10th outfield assist, which leads the Majors among center fielders.
"I saw it up in the air and wanted to get some momentum going," Bradley said. "I tried to keep it down and fire the best strike I could."
His five double plays are the most by a rookie since former Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew had six for the Cardinals in 1999.
"He gets some of the best reads I've ever seen," teammate Brock Holt said. "When a ball is hit, he just puts his head down and runs. He's always in the right spot. He is pretty talented."
The next gem came in the ninth with a runner on first and two outs. Machado crushed a ball to center field that looked to have extra bases written all over it until Bradley made a leaping catch at the warning track to keep the game knotted at 6.
"I knew it was going to be over my head. I thought it was going to be a pretty close play at the wall and I felt myself getting close, so I decided to leap early," Bradley said. "Sometimes you see outfielders get to the wall and leap and get caught by the wall. I wanted to get airborne before I got to the wall."
As he made his way back to the dugout after the catch, fans were standing on their feet and teammates were on the top step of the dugout ready to greet Bradley.
"It feels great. I always want to be able to help out the pitchers as much as possible and show them that I am willing to give up my body to make a play for them," said Bradley.
After the game, Bradley played coy in saying which defensive gem he enjoyed more.
"They both saved runs," Bradley said. "I like making the great plays, but I also like throwing. I enjoy them both."
Bradley's great day wasn't limited to his play in the field. He went 2-for-4 with a walk and run scored and has a hit in his last four games. He's recorded a hit in 10 of his last 13 games, hitting .295 in that span.
"The extra work he's doing is starting to pay off. He's starting to reproduce a more consistent swing path, using the whole field, particularly the left side of the field as we've seen in the past," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He's in a pretty good place confidence-wise. Couple of really key defensive plays today with a catch up against the wall, throws another guy out at home plate. But playing with much more confidence probably over the last two to three weeks."
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.