BOSTON -- Through the first 11 innings at Fenway Park on Wednesday night, Jackie Bradley Jr. had yet to make the dazzling grab in center field that he seems to make in just about every Red Sox game.As it turns out, he timed this one perfectly. In the top of
BOSTON -- Through the first 11 innings at Fenway Park on Wednesday night, Jackie Bradley Jr. had yet to make the dazzling grab in center field that he seems to make in just about every Red Sox game.
As it turns out, he timed this one perfectly. In the top of the 12th, Gregory Polanco hit a little looper that Xander Bogaerts raced back for as Bradley swarmed in.
At the last instant, Bogaerts scurried out of the way while Bradley slid in for a crucial grab in a game the Red Sox would win, 3-0, over the Pirates in 12 innings.
Statcast™ rated it as a 4-star catch with a 49 percent catch probability rate.
Last season Bradley tied for eighth in the Majors with 11 4-star catches.
For this particular catch, Bradley needed to travel 81 feet and did so in 4.6 seconds. That's what is known as closing speed.
"I saw he didn't get all of it," said Bradley. "Just tucked my head and started running in. I picked it up at the last little bit. Plays like that in a game are big. It gives you momentum and a lot of confidence to the pitchers that you can make a play for them."
Joe Kelly, the man on the mound for the Red Sox at the time, has full faith in Bradley. But even he thought this particular bloop might spell trouble.
"Polanco hit that ball, and that guy runs like a deer," said Kelly. "So off the bat, I was assuming it would be a double if he sprinted out of the box and that ball falls. So I thought Jackie was the last guy that would catch it. I thought Bogey had a little better chance just because I knew he [Bradley] was playing deep and Polanco has some pop. But see him coming in sliding, and I thought 'he has a chance,' but he caught it a lot more clean than I thought he would. So that was pretty impressive to see a play like that."
The Red Sox are fortunate to have two stellar defenders in the outfield with Bradley and right fielder Mookie Betts.
Bradley had 17 4-5 star catches last year, and Betts had 14. The only other team to have two outfielders combine on more 4-5 star catches? Cincinnati's Billy Hamilton (24) and Adam Duvall (15).
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.