Chris Sale’s gem and Jackie Bradley Jr.’s great catch for Red Sox goes for naught in crushing loss to A’s – Boston Herald

OAKLAND, Calif. — What a waste.

A waste of another Chris Sale gem, this one extending his 10-strikeout streak to a record-tying eight games.

A waste of Jackie Bradley Jr.’s incredible homer-stealing catch with two outs in the ninth.

A waste of an opportunity to win a series against the last-place Oakland A’s.

The Red Sox were walked off in 10 innings last night, taking a 3-2 loss to the A’s that dropped their season record to 21-20. They’ve lost two in a row with two left to play in Oakland before heading back home.

“Peripheral stats don’t matter in this game,” said Sale. “I know people love crunching numbers and they love talking about this and that. They’re flashy, they’re cool, but at the end of the day they don’t matter. They really don’t. Other than the win-loss record for your team, every other stat doesn’t matter. You have a group of guys come together, and put everything they have on the field to win a game, nobody cares what they’re doing personally. I think that’s where we’re at right now.”

If Bradley had an arm like Inspector Gadget or one of those golfball fishing poles that can extend out of its socket, the catch he made last night still would have been one of the most amazing catches anyone will see at a baseball game.

But he doesn’t. And because he doesn’t, the timing of his jump at the wall in center field, with the game on the line in the ninth inning, had to be absolutely perfect. His arm had to expand to its maximum length. His legs had to push off the ground as high as they could.

It all happened. And the 5-foot-10 outfielder leaped over the 8-foot wall about 400 feet from home plate and stole a walk-off long ball from Ryon Healy that saved Craig Kimbrel from blowing the game.

“He’s a great center fielder,” Healy told reporters afterward. “I don’t’ know if surprised is the right word but it’s not something I want to see ever again.”

As good as Bradley has been in center field, he said it’s the first time he’s robbed a walk-off home run.

“I mean everything has to be so perfect,” he said. “The trajectory of the baseball, it has to be close enough to where you’re able to get back to the wall. I mean there are so many things that have to go right for a play like that to happen.”

Kimbrel looked on in amazement from the first-base line. Bradley showed no emotion as he ran back in from center field.

“That’s as good of an outfield catch that you’re going to see,” Sale said. “This is a big ballpark and he had to cover a lot of ground. We all know he’s really good at doing that. Jackie making that catch right there, I said it out loud, ‘we’re going to win this game.’ That’s how I feel about this team, feeding off of energy, feeding off each other, and all that.”

But the Red Sox couldn’t score in the top of the 10th, then Mark Canha destroyed a pitch from Heath Hembree in the bottom of the inning to serve the Red Sox a gut-wrenching loss.

“Falls behind in the count 2-0 and unfortunately a guy who is hot tonight in Canha, a big night for him,” manager John Farrell said.

Sale was once again exceptional, and it was one of those rare moments where the Red Sox gave him an early lead.

Mitch Moreland homered for his second straight night, demolishing an inside cutter from A’s starter Kendall Graveman over the right-field wall for a two-run jack in the fourth.

The A’s got one back in the fifth when Healy hit a liner to right field and Mookie Betts misjudged it, running in a straight line toward the ball but not getting there in time as it rolled to the wall for an RBI triple.

The A’s added another in the sixth to tie the game when Khris Davis hit an RBI double to left. And it could’ve scored two runs if not for Bradley, who fielded it immediately off the wall and threw a perfect strike to home plate, forcing Jed Lowrie to slam on the breaks and run back to third base.

Sale had just eight strikeouts until the seventh, but fanned his final two batters to tie his own record of eight straight games with at least 10 strikeouts. Pedro Martinez is the only other pitcher to strike out at least 10 in eight straight games in a single season. He did it during his magical 1999 season with the Red Sox.

“I’d rather be 8-0 with no punchouts, honestly,” Sale said.

Kimbrel pitched the ninth, another show of faith from Farrell, who has finally begun using his closer in the ninth inning of tie games on the road.

Bradley saved him.

Had the Sox scored in the top of the 10th, Farrell said he would’ve used Kimbrel in the bottom of the inning.

But the offense wasn’t there. And Hembree, who has been solid for most of this season, made a crucial mistake.

Chris Sale’s gem and Jackie Bradley Jr.’s great catch for Red Sox goes for naught in crushing loss to A’s – Boston Herald

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