ANAHEIM, Calif - It's impressive enough to make the kind of stupendous catch Jackie Bradley Jr. did in the ninth inning off Howie Kendrick, robbing the Angels' second baseman of extra bases.
But it's even more impressive when you consider that Bradley had just entered the game an inning earlier as a defensive replacement, having spent the first seven innings -- several hours -- on the bench.
"He's such an impact defender,'' gushed manager John Farrell after the Red Sox had held off the Angels, 4-2, Friday night. "We've seen it many times and he had an impact in this game just with two innings of defense.''
Indeed, the catch to rob Kendrick of a double to open the ninth inning was the second big play Bradley made in center. In the bottom of the eighth, he raced in to snare a sinking liner off the bat of Mike Trout, who was also leading off the inning.
"It's not something I'm used to,'' said Bradley of making highlight catches following a long time in the dugout. "But whatever, I just want to be able to make an impact.''
On Kendrick's ball, Bradley noted from from the time the ball left the bat "it was well hit. I immediately broke and took my eyes off it
and tried to get the fastest three steps in before looking back in to see if he could handle.''
As Bradley made the grab, his momemtum carried him into the padded wall in center and nearly jarred the ball loose. But he clutched it tightly and held on.
"I don't know,'' chuckled Bradley. "It all happened so fast. I was just hoping the wall didn't stop me before I was able to get to it. I didn't snowcone it; I felt like it hit enough of the glove where I caught it and it slipped down into the pocket.''
As for the catch in the eighth, Bradley took note that Trout had two strikes on him "but I'm not coming in with that guy. I saw it off the bat and obviously I knew it wasn't going to be deep. You put your head down. It was much easier than the one to the wall [in the ninth] because I can keep my eyes on it [the whole time].''
The defensive game-savers came at a time when Bradley has been out of the lineup more often than not, as he struggles to get over an offensive funk that has seen him go hitless in 27 at-bats.
"The one that's never been skaken in his time here is his defense,''said Farrell. "He's a confident defender. You feel like he can roll out of bed and run to a spot where a ball's going to potentially land. Thankfully, he's got that instinct because it showed up twice here tonight.''