KANSAS CITY -- Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. has made a reputation on spectacular catches. So when he thought he had a chance to make another one with Monday night's tense game against the Royals hanging in the balance, the center fielder went for it.
Only this time, Bradley came up short, and his near-miss on the outstretched dive wound up as a one-out triple for Andrew Butera. Not long after, Ramon Torres, running for Butera, scored the go-ahead run to help lead the Royals to a 4-2 victory over the Red Sox on Monday night at Kaufman Stadium.
According to Statcast™, Bradley had a catch probability of only four percent. He had to cover 59 feet in 3.5 seconds, so the data shows that Bradley was probably a little ambitious in thinking he could make the play.
If Bradley had played it safe and stayed on his feet, the slow-footed Butera likely would have had a single or double, and perhaps the rest of the game would have played out differently.
That's easy to say in hindsight. Bradley had a split second to decide how to play it.
"I took the best route to it, straight at it," said Bradley. "It was just barely out of my reach."
The Red Sox trust Bradley to make the right reads on defense, and there was no second-guessing in the clubhouse after the game.
"You know, he's giving everything he's got," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "You're not going to fault a guy for the all-out effort that he gave, because we have seen that play made a number of times. Unfortunately, it alludes him a little bit [and] they end up with a man at third base. They bunch a couple of hits together for the two runs."
Bradley is 0-for-8 on 5-star catches this season after going 5-for-45 on them in 2016. In other words, he probably has a few coming his way in the next few weeks. Bradley has six 4-star catches this season, the fourth highest in MLB.
Butera realized his good fortunate in getting three.
"I've always said a few people have to fall down for me to get a triple, and they did," Butera said of his fifth career triple. "I got the good part of the bat on it. I was a little surprised he dived for it, but honestly, I thought he caught it. Then I heard [first-base coach] Rusty [Kuntz] yell, 'Three!'"
It was Bradley who got the Red Sox back in the game by clocking a game-tying, two-run homer to right in the fourth that Statcast™ measured with a projected distance of 423 feet.
As for the miss in center, Bradley realizes there is a debate about whether to go all out, or play it safe.
"Definitely," Bradley said. "But I guess we wouldn't be asking that question if I made the play. It's one of those things where I took a chance, and I didn't catch it."