The Boston Red Sox are one win away from the World Series in large part thanks to the collective effort from their trio of outfielders.
The Red Sox held off a furious charge from the Houston Astros on Wednesday night, eking out an 8-6 win in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.
The night was capped by a sensational sliding catch from left fielder Andrew Benintendi, a fitting ending to a game that featured legitimate contributions from all three outfielders.
From Jackie Bradley Jr.’s go-ahead, two-run home run in the sixth inning; to Mookie Betts’ incredible play and throw to cut down Tony Kemp trying to stretch an eighth-inning single into a double; to Benintendi’s game-saving catch, Boston’s outfield brilliance was on full display.
“We do feel that we have the best outfield in the big leagues,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said after the game. “The effort by Mookie on the ball at the wall, the effort on the Tony Kemp ball down the line and then (Benintendi) taking a chance there. Those three guys, when they’re together, they’re pretty special.”
Of course, this is nothing new. The Red Sox’s cumulative outfield wins above replacement of 11.5 was the best in all of baseball. So it was fitting that it was an all-around effort Wednesday night.
While Betts received the most attention, deservedly so, Bradley arguably has been the Red Sox’s most important outfielder so far. In addition to continued stellar defense, Bradley’s flair for the dramatic has propelled the Red Sox to their two wins in Houston.
“I’m very proud of him, what he’s done in the second part of the season and what he’s done tonight and in this series,” Cora said of Bradley, who now has nine RBIs in the ALCS. “It’s amazing. He keeps working on his craft, his swing. He understands now, he’s staying through the ball, hitting the ball in the air. There’s no more hitting line drives into the shift. Now he hits the ball in the air.
“He’s giving himself a chance, and like I said last night, all credit goes to him. He was the one, he found it and he’s staying with his process and he’s done an outstanding job.”
While Bradley is the best-known defender of the three, Betts and Benintendi saved the night for Sox closer Craig Kimbrel with the two most important defensive plays of the night.
“We take all the pride in the world,” Betts said. “It wins games like it did today. It’s just one of those things where it just takes effort. We’re all athletes that give effort.”
Now, those efforts have the Red Sox on the verge of reaching the Fall Classic.
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images