Looking Back at Jackie Bradley Jr.’s 29-Game Hitting Streak

On this day in 2016, Jackie Bradley Jr.’s 29-game hitting streak came to a close, as the Red Sox outfielder went 0-for-4 in an 8-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies at Fenway Park.

Hitting out of the leadoff spot for the first time in 2016, the then-26-year-old flew out to right in his first at-bat, grounded out to the pitcher in his second at-bat, flew out to center in his third at-bat, and grounded out to second in his fourth and final at-bat.

Headed into the bottom half of the ninth with his side trailing by six, Bradley Jr. was slated to bat sixth in the inning, and he even made it to the on-deck circle with two outs and two runners on before the pinch-hitting Mookie Betts grounded out to first to end the game.

“It was a fun ride,” said Bradley postgame. “I had a lot of fun. I enjoyed it. Most of all, the team played really well during it. I’m blessed to be in this situation.”

From April 24th, the day the hitting streak began, to May 25th, the day before it ended, the Red Sox went 21-8 to propel them to first place in the American League East at that point in the season.

Looking at Bradley Jr.’s numbers over that stretch, the South Carolina product posted an absurd .415/.488/.783 slash line to go along with eight home runs and 30 RBI over 29 games played.

By that time Bradley Jr.’s hitting streak came to an end on that faithful Thursday night at Fenway four years ago, he was just five games away from tying Dom DiMaggio for the longest hitting streak in Red Sox history (34 games in 1949).

Despite not being able to reach that mark, Bradley Jr. still became the first major-leaguer since 2013 to have a hitting streak of at least 29 games. The last Red Sox hitter to reach the 30-game plateau was Nomar Garciappara, who accomplished that feat in 1997.

After going hitless for the first time in several weeks, Bradley Jr. got back on track the following day in Toronto and recorded hits in three of his next four games to wrap up a terrific month of May in which he was named American League Player of the Month.

From there, the 2011 first-round pick was named to his first All-Star Game that July and went on to have his best season in the majors in terms of fWAR (5.3).

Andrew Benintendi Sits, J.D. Martinez Starts in Left for Red Sox in Series Opener Against Rockies

In the first of two against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on Tuesday, it will be J.D. Martinez getting the start in left field for the Red Sox while Andrew Benintendi sits for the second straight game.

Benintendi departed in the sixth inning of this past Saturday’s 5-4 victory over the San Diego Padres after aggravating his left side on a swing in the top half of the fifth.

Later diagnosed with left side tightness and ruled day-to-day, Sox manager Alex Cora said pregame Sunday that, “We’ll stay away from [Benintendi] today, he’ll probably get some treatment [Monday] and we’ll know more on Tuesday.”

As already mentioned, Martinez will start in Benintendi’s place with no designated hitter available at a National League ballpark.

In nine career games at Coors Field, Martinez is slashing .447/.463/.558 with two home runs and nine RBI over 41 total plate appearances.

Here’s how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind RIck Porcello on Tuesday, facing off against Rockies rookie right-hander Rico Garcia in his major league debut.

Garcia, 25, is currently the 20th-ranked prospect in Colorado’s system. In 25 starts between Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque this season, he owns an ERA of 4.23 and batting average against of .249 through 123 1/3 innings pitched.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 8:40 PM EDT on NESN. The season series between these two clubs is split even at one game apiece.

J.D. Martinez Batting Cleanup, Starting in Right Field for Red Sox in Players’ Weekend Opener Against Padres

After walking off the Kansas City Royals on Thursday, the Red Sox open up an eight-game, three-city west coast trip on Friday night, beginning with the first of three against the 59-67 San Diego Padres at Petco Park.

So far this season, the Sox are an underwhelming 3-7 in interleague play, with two of those losses coming this past week at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Since these three games will be played at a National League ballpark, Boston loses the designated hitter, meaning J.D. Martinez will slide over to right field and bat out of the cleanup spot for the series opener against the Pads on Friday.

In 17 games as a right fielder so far this year, the recently turned 32-year-old slugger is slashing .319/.397/.638 with six home runs and 12 RBI over 78 plate appearances.

With that move to the outfield for Martinez, Mookie Betts slides over to center and Andrew Benintendi remains in left, while Jackie Bradley Jr. gets the night off.

As the above tweet indicates, Friday is also the opening night of Players’ Weekend 2019, a weekend where the Red Sox have yet to win a single game since its inception in 2017.

Yup, they were swept by the Baltimore Orioles at home in 2017, and swept on the road by the Tampa Bay Rays last year, which marked the only time they were swept over the course of a dominant 2018 campaign.

The Red Sox are 4-2 all-time against the Padres at Petco Park, winning series’ there in both 2007 and 2016.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 10:10 PM EDT on NESN. Eduardo Rodriguez going against Chris Paddack.

Also, here are some of the cleats different Red Sox will be sporting this weekend.

Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez Both in Red Sox Lineup for Second Game Against Royals

After one was a late scratch and the other was an early departure in the opener of a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals on Monday, both J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts are in the Red Sox’ lineup for the middle game on Tuesday.

Martinez was initially slated to start at designated hitter and bat cleanup on Monday, but was later scratched due to back soreness.

Betts, meanwhile, was 0-for-2 with a pair of walks and runs scored before being removed in the eighth inning on Monday after taking a foul ball off his left shin in the bottom half of the seventh.

The 26-year-old was able to stay in to draw his second walk and eventually come in to score his second run, but could not remain in the game defensively.

Later ruled with a left shin contusion, Betts told reporters postgame Monday that everything is perfectly normal and he would be good to go for Tuesday.

That much turned out to be true, as Betts will be leading off against Jakob Junis and the Royals while Martinez will bat third with Xander Bogaerts presumably getting a day off.

In their careers against Kansas City, Betts owns a lifetime .358/.409/.657 slash line to go along with 10 home runs and 22 RBI over 32 games played, while Martinez owns a lifetime .302/.362/.527 slash line to go along with 12 home runs and 38 RBI over 74 games played.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Andrew Cashner gets the ball for the Red Sox.

Christian Vazquez Batting Sixth, Starting at First for Red Sox in Second Game Against Dodgers

For the first time in his career, Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez will be starting at first base against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night.

With Sox manager Alex Cora deciding to go back to Sandy Leon behind the plate to catch Chris Sale, the need to keep a red-hot Vazquez in the lineup was there, so, the backstop will be getting the start over at first in the second of this three-game weekend set.

Since breaking out of a 3-for-23 slump on June 11th, the 28-year-old is slashing .352/.359/.682 with eight home runs and 20 RBI over his last 21 games.

On the 2019 campaign as a whole, Vazquez leads all American League catchers (min. 250 plate appearances) in hits (78) and fWAR (2.9), per Fangraphs.

In his five-year big league career, 90% of all appearances the Puerto Rico have made have come as a catcher.

Back on April 15th of this season, Vazquez got the start at second against the Baltimore Orioles, where he went 0-for-3.

On April 24th, Vazquez moved from catcher to first base in the ninth inning of an 11-4 win over the Detroit Tigers. He did not commit an error.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up on Saturday behind Chris Sale. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 PM EDT on FOX.

Rafael Devers Bats Second, Andrew Benintendi Fifth for Red Sox in Second Half Opener Against Dodgers

After dour days off for the All-Star break, the Red Sox officially kick off the second half of their 2019 campaign in the first of three against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Fenway Park on Friday night.

In a rematch of the 2018 World Series, Sox manager Alex Cora, fresh off leading the American League to their seventh straight Midsummer Classic victory this past Tuesday, is sticking to the same lineup that resulted in his club taking five of their last six contests heading into the break.

That’s right, Rafael Devers remains in the two-hole, while Andrew Benintendi does the same by batting fifth for Boston to begin the weekend against the best team in the National League.

Since moving up to the second spot in the Red Sox’ lineup on June 25th, Devers is slashing .432/.479/.841 with 10 extra base hits, four of which were homers, and 14 RBI over 10 games and 48 plate appearances.

Benintendi, meanwhile, has played in just five games over that same stretch and went hitless in the first three before breaking out for a four-hit night against the Detroit Tigers on July 6th.

The now 25-year-old outfielder followed that up with a 1-for-4 performance last Sunday, driving in one of his team’s six runs to close out the first half.

On July 4th, Cora implied that Benintendi needs be more “hitter-ish” when at the plate. That much is evident in how much his offensive production has dropped off to begin his third full season in the majors.

Compare Benintendi’s first 76 games in 2018 to his first 76 in 2019. In 2018, the former first round pick posted a .912 OPS to go along with 13 homers and 49 RBI through June 21st of that year.

This season, Benintendi has posted just a .784 OPS with only seven homers and 38 RBI through the midpoint.

If the Red Sox truly want to succeed in 2019, they need to get the most out of their best hitters. Benintendi is one of those hitters.

First pitch against the Dodgers Friday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Back to baseball.

JD Martinez Returns to #RedSox Lineup in Houston, Bats Cleanup Against Former Club in Series Opener

Following a four-game absence in which he dealt with an illness as well as back tightness up in Toronto, slugger JD Martinez is back in the Red Sox’ lineup for their series opener against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park Friday night.

The 31-year-old will bat cleanup and serve as the designated hitter for Boston against Astros left-hander and old friend Wade Miley.

Now in his second season with the Sox, Martinez was originally drafted by the ‘Stros out of Nova Southeastern University in the 20th round of the 2009 amateur draft before being released by the club before the start of the 2014 season.

Since then, the Florida native has become one of the more feared hitters in all of baseball and is currently sporting a .308 batting average to go along with nine home runs and 29 RBI through 44 games this year.

As for the rest of the Red Sox lineup, Michael Chavis will remain in the leadoff spot, and he will be followed by Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Martinez, Steve Pearce, Andrew Benintendi Eduardo Nunez, Sandy Leon, and Jackie Bradley Jr. with Chris Sale on the hill.

The red-hot Rafael Devers will begin the night on the bench against the opposing southpaw on the mound for Houston, his first day off of the season. Same goes for Mitch Moreland.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 8:10 PM EDT on NESN.

#RedSox Manager Alex Cora Announces Opening Day Starting Lineup, Featuring Andrew Benintendi Leading off and Christian Vazquez Catching Chris Sale

With Opening Day just mere hours away, Red Sox manager Alex Cora on Wednesday announced the starting lineup for his team’s first game of the 2019 season against the Seattle Mariners on Thursday.

  1. Benintendi, LF
  2. Betts, RF
  3. Devers, 3B
  4. Martinez, DH
  5. Bogaerts, SS
  6. Moreland, 1B
  7. Nunez, 2B
  8. Bradley Jr., CF
  9. Vazquez, C
    Sale, SP

To nobody’s surprise, Andrew Benintendi will be serving as Boston’s leadoff man for the majority of the season, as announced by Cora himself last December.

In 97 career plate appearances batting leadoff for Boston, the 24-year-old outfielder, who is entering his third full big league season, is slashing .322/.381/.598 with seven doubles, one triple, five home runs, and 15 RBI.

After Benintendi, Mookie Betts will be sliding into the two-hole, which was also expected.

What may not have been expected is what comes next, with third baseman Rafael Devers getting the chance to bat in between Betts and JD Martinez.

According to Cora, the third spot in Boston’s lineup will not be reserved for one specific hitter over the course of the season, with Devers, Mitch Moreland, and Steve Pearce also in the mix depending on pitching matchups. But, with Pearce currently on the injured list back in Fort Myers, it will go to the young corner infielder for Opening Day.

“Steve is not here and (Devers) did a good job,” Cora said to reporters on Wednesday afternoon. “So go get ‘em, kid.”

Devers, 22, made his major league debut in Seattle back in July of 2017.

From there, as it reads above, we have Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Mitch Moreland making up a pretty solid 4-5-6 portion of the lineup

And to round it off, it will go Eduardo Nunez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Christian Vazquez, who of course will be catching Chris Sale in Game 1 of 162 on Thursday.

Per Baseball Reference, Sale owns a 3.40 ERA and .643 OPS against in 53 total innings pitched over 11 outings with Vazquez behind the plate.

He had been mostly working with Sandy Leon in his first three seasons with the Red Sox, but with Leon now off Boston’s 40-man roster, it will be interesting to see how the left-hander performs with Vazquez, or even Blake Swihart, serving as his catcher.

Whether or not Vazquez will be Sale’s personal catcher has yet to be revealed, but I doubt that.

Anyway, it looks like I’m going to run out of time to post a huge 2019 preview blog, but first pitch against the Mariners is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT Thursday on ESPN. Get excited.