KANSAS CITY -- One of the hottest stories at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday night was Whit Merrifield making his debut for the Royals after six seasons in the Minors. But the hottest hitter on the grounds was another alum from the University of South Carolina.In fact, Bradley is the hottest
KANSAS CITY -- One of the hottest stories at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday night was Whit Merrifield making his debut for the Royals after six seasons in the Minors. But the hottest hitter on the grounds was another alum from the University of South Carolina.
In fact, Bradley is the hottest hitter in the game at the moment. The center fielder drilled a solo shot to left-center in his first at-bat in Game 2 of Wednesday's day-night doubleheader, leading the Red Sox to a 5-2 win over the Royals.
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Bradley's homer stretched his hitting streak to 24 games, the longest in the Major Leagues this season. He later added a single to raise his average to .338.
Though all of the Red Sox players were ready for Thursday's off-day, it's likely Bradley will be the most relaxed.
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"It's good to get a hit. Any time you can get ahead on a team, and obviously it was the last game, we were glad to get a win at this place," said Bradley.
In a 3-2 loss in Game 1, Bradley took it down to the wire before extending his streak in the ninth inning with a single to right against nasty Royals closer Wade Davis.
There has been nothing soft about Bradley's streak. He is simply drilling the baseball. Over the 24-game stretch which started on April 24, Bradley is hitting .407 (37-for-91) with seven doubles, three triples, seven homers, 28 RBIs and a 1.240 OPS.
"He's in a good place," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "You love to see the at-bats he's taking. He's doing it against very good pitching, evident by the early game today."
You know Bradley is hot when the Royals walked him intentionally in Game 2 with two outs and first base open.
Christian Vazquez made the Royals pay for the strategy with a two-run single that helped the Red Sox pad their lead to 4-1.
"Man, it was special for him to come through and put some extra runs on the board and increase the lead," Bradley said of Vazquez. "It's exactly what we were wanting."
It was typical of Bradley to heap praise on Vazquez while hardly saying anything about his own heroics.
A reporter pointed out to Bradley that he can't help but be a focal point with his streak at the level it's at now.
"Well, let's keep talking about the team then if that's the case," Bradley said.
The man who started the season as Boston's No. 9 hitter before recently ascending to the seven-hole is keeping it simple.
"I feel like making hard contact is the most important thing and squaring up balls, striking out less, giving myself an opportunity to at least put the ball in play and see what happens," said Bradley.
What is happening nightly -- usually more than once -- is Bradley getting a hit.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.