BOSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. picked a fine time to drill one of the most powerful home runs of his career. His two-run smash to right-center with two outs in the bottom of the eighth snapped a tie, leading the Red Sox to a 5-3 victory in Friday night's opener
BOSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. picked a fine time to drill one of the most powerful home runs of his career. His two-run smash to right-center with two outs in the bottom of the eighth snapped a tie, leading the Red Sox to a 5-3 victory in Friday night's opener of a three-game series against the Tigers at Fenway Park.
When Bradley's eighth homer of the season soared into the bleachers in right, the Red Sox -- who had scored just one run in the previous two games -- had their first lead of the night.
"That's one of the longer home runs I've seen hit in this ballpark," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "You think, that's halfway to the red seat, which almost seems like a myth, how far that red seat is [502 feet]. But a beautiful swing, well-hit and timely, no doubt."
It was Bradley's hardest homer in the Statcast™ era (which dates back to 2015), with an exit velocity of 110 mph. The blast had a projected distance of 435 feet, his second longest since '15.
"It felt good, especially with the circumstance," Bradley said. "It feels good to get a win."
Bradley has four homers in his past 13 games and finally feels completely over the right knee sprain he suffered against the Tigers on April 8.
"I've been able to take that brace off and I'm getting a lot stronger and I'm healthier," Bradley said. "It's one of those things where I'm getting my timing back. Like I said, just trying to swing at strikes in the zone and swing at good pitches."
Tigers reliever Alex Wilson came on with a 3-2 lead to start the game-turning eighth, and got into trouble quickly. Mitch Moreland (3-for-4, solo HR, 2 runs, 2 RBIs) tied it up with an RBI single to right.
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"You could kind of split the game in the half," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "The first half went to us. The second half went to them. Their second half was better than our first half."
Craig Kimbrel (0.98 ERA) closed it out in the ninth for his 18th save in 19 tries.
Tigers righty Jordan Zimmermann, who had a shaky start to the season, turned in his second consecutive strong outing and was in position to get the win, but instead had to settle for a no-decision. He allowed six hits and two runs over six innings.
Red Sox lefty Christopher Johnson, recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to fill in for Eduardo Rodriguez (right knee subluxation), allowed eight hits and three runs over 4 1/3 innings. It was his third start of the season for the Red Sox.
Moreland's homer in the fourth was the first sign of life for the Boston bats. Martinez tried to rob the blast out of the bullpen, but couldn't time it right, bringing back memories of David Ortiz's grand slam against Detroit in Game 2 of the 2013 American League Championship Series.
Fans were just settling into their seats when Nicholas Castellanos gave the Tigers a jolt with a solo homer to center with one out in the first. The ball was smoked, registering with an exit velocity of 105.5 mph and a projected distance of 421 feet per Statcast™. It was the second straight day the third baseman has homered, as he extended his hitting streak to eight games. Teammate Michael Mahtook also hit a solo shot off Johnson.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bogaerts bloop starts winning rally: The way things had been going for the Red Sox offensively the past few days, maybe they needed a bloop to change their luck. That's what happened as Xander Bogaerts skied a fly ball to right-center in the eighth that seemed playable for J.D. Martinez. But the right fielder didn't get a good break on it, and it fell in for a rally-starting single. Martinez had a catch probability of 83 percent on the play. The Red Sox went on to score three in the inning. Martinez had 87 feet to cover on the play, but had ample time (5.2 seconds) to get there. Bogaerts moved into scoring position when he drew an errant pickoff throw by Wilson. The hit probability for Bogaerts was 8 percent.
"Before the foot injury, I don't know if [Martinez] would or wouldn't have [caught that ball]," Ausmus said of his right fielder, who opened the season on DL with a lisfranc sprain in his foot. "It's a possibility."
Farrell was surprised it was a hit.
"Without a doubt. Martinez is a good player," he said. "Off the bat, you think that's going to hang out there long enough, and when he extended his arm, it looked like he was in pretty decent shape to convert the play."
Leon cuts down Iglesias: With two outs in the top of the eighth, Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon made a big play to help set up the rally in the bottom of the inning. With Ian Kinsler at bat and Jose Iglesias on first, the Tigers gave Iglesias the sign to steal on the first pitch. Leon zipped the ball across the diamond after a called strike to second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who tagged Iglesias right before he reached the bag.
"There is such a thing in my eyes as defensive momentum," said Farrell.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the bottom of the first, the Red Sox had runners on first and second base with one out. Moreland hit a grounder to Jose Cabrera at first base, who chose to throw to second for the force out. Cabrera's throw was off to the right, taking shortstop Iglesias' foot off of second base as Bogaerts approached. Iglesias got his foot back on the bag in time, as Bogaerts was called out. After a manager challenge by the Red Sox, the call was confirmed.
The Tigers challenged a fourth-inning groundout in which Pablo Sandoval bobbled a ball but recovered to throw out Castellanos at first. Replays were close, but after a 2-minute, 35-second review, the original call stood, ending the inning with Cabrera on deck.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Kimbrel threw searing heat in this one. His 99.9-mph whiff of Kinsler marked his fastest strikeout pitch of the season, according to Statcast™. Kimbrel threw a 100.5-mph pitch to Castellanos later in the inning.
Tigers:Justin Verlander (4-4, 4.63 ERA) returns from a groin injury that knocked him out of his last start Sunday in the third inning to start the middle game of this series in a 7:15 p.m. ET start Saturday at Fenway Park. Verlander has allowed two runs on 12 hits over 14 innings in his past two starts at Fenway.
Red Sox: In a rematch of the riveting duel April 10 in Detroit, Red Sox ace Chris Sale again faces Verlander on Saturday. The Tigers prevailed, 2-1, in that matchup. Sale allowed three runs in the first inning of his last start at Baltimore, but dominated the rest of the way to earn the win.
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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.