Jackie Bradley Jr. could be getting on track.
The Red Sox center fielder was out of the lineup for three consecutive games against the Minnesota Twins and Milwaukee Brewers over the past week as he tried to work out of an early season slump. But during Boston’s 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday at Fenway Park, the center fielder showed his hard work with hitting coach Chili Davis might be starting to pay off.
With Boston trailing by a run in the fifth inning, Bradley Jr. stepped to the plate against Rays left-hander Blake Snell and lined a low-and-away fastball to left field for a double that helped start the Red Sox’s four-run inning.
It was an especially big at-bat because Snell had sat down Bradley Jr. on strikes on that exact same pitch during his first plate appearance. The center fielder added another hit in the sixth inning and finished his day going 2-for-3.
Manager John Farrell likes what he is seeing from Bradley Jr.
“You look at what Jackie did, I thought one of the more encouraging swings of the day was the double that he hit down the left-field line,” Farrell said, as seen on NESN’s Red Sox postgame coverage. “Their attack plan against Jackie has been pretty clear, pretty consistent. It’s down and away. Hopefully, as he’s gaining a little personal momentum it changes the dynamic in the bottom third of the order.”
The 27-year-old believes he’s in a good place at the plate and the results will start to come.
“I feel like I’ve been competing with each at-bat and getting into deep counts the last couple of days,” Bradley Jr. said, per The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham.”I feel like I’ve been seeing the ball well. … Just trying to continue to put swings on some balls. You have to take each at-bat one at a time. I’ll get to a point where I can take it one pitch at a time.”
Here are more notes from Red Sox vs. Rays.
— Mookie Betts continued to rake since being moved up in the batting order. Betts went 2-for-4 with a home run and a double Saturday, and now leads Major League Baseball with 11 extra-base hits this month.
— Dustin Pedroia passed Bobby Doerr for sixth on the Red Sox’s all-time doubles list with 382.
— Chris Sale leads the majors with 85 strikeouts through eight starts. He is tied with Randy Johnson for the most strikeouts through the first eight starts with a team. Johnson did it in 1999 with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
— Sale became the fifth Red Sox starter since 1913 to strike out 12 or more and allow two hits or fewer. Jon Lester was the last Red Sox pitcher to accomplish the feat, as he did so on May 3, 2014, against the Oakland Athletics.
— Craig Kimbrel has retired 40 of the last 43 batters he’s faced, including 29 by strikeout. The Red Sox closer has converted all 26 save opportunities of his career at Fenway Park.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images