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Bradley continues to mash as Sox hit 70 wins

Boston Herald
July 22. 2018 9:36PM
Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. celebrates with shortstop Xander Bogaerts after hitting a three run home run during the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. (Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports)

DETROIT — The numbers are only slowly starting to show it, but Jackie Bradley Jr. looks like he’s entering another one of his signature hot streaks.

After grinding through three awful months at the plate, Bradley has now put together a month of consistently hard contact that was capped off with a 390-foot three-run homer to opposite field Sunday afternoon, when he sparked the Red Sox offense in a 9-1 win over the Detroit Tigers.

Bradley also hauled in a long fly ball near the left-center field warning track with the bases loaded to end the eighth inning and secure the Red Sox’ series victory over the struggling Tigers. The win gave Boston the distinction of being the first major league team to 70 wins this season.

Chris Sale began his second half Cy Young Award campaign with six scoreless innings in which he allowed just two hits and struck out nine.

After a 2-for-4 day at the plate on Saturday, the 28-year-old Bradley is now hitting .314 with eight doubles, three homers and 18 RBI over his last 20 games since June 24.

In that same span, Bradley has 24 instances of hitting the ball at least 100 mph off the bat, more than anybody on the Red Sox and more than all but five major league hitters, according to Baseball Savant.

He had just 47 such instances in the three months of season before June 24, hitting just 4.2 percent of his pitches at least 100 mph compared to 8.6 percent after June 24.

Bradley came a few feet from connecting on a three-run homer that could’ve changed the game on Saturday on a hit that “would’ve been gone in 29 other ballparks,” manager Alex Cora said.

On Sunday, the Sox held a 3-0 lead in the fourth when Bradley blasted a juicy 96-mph fastball from Drew VerHagen over the left-field fence for a three-run shot.

At that point, Sale (11-4) could’ve called it a day.

But he finished two more innings to complete six on just 99 pitches before turning it over to the bullpen.

Sale has been in a remarkable run over his last eight starts, in which he’s struck out 87 batters and allowed only 29 hits over 54 innings with a 0.83 ERA.

Brandon Workman gave up a solo shot in the seventh and Joe Kelly had a messy eighth but did not allow a run.

Working on back-to-back days in the majors for the first time since 2016, Tyler Thornburg looked sharp in a seven-pitch ninth inning.

The Red Sox moved on to begin a three-game series at Baltimore tonight.

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