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Red Sox 9, Braves 1: Jackie Bradley Jr.’s potential Red Sox swan song

If this was the end of his Red Sox career, he ended it in style.

Boston Red Sox v Atlanta Braves Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

If this was indeed the final game Jackie Bradley Jr., who is a free agent this winter, will play for the Red Sox, he put on a hell of a show. The details are below so I won’t go too in depth here, but we got a glimpse of everything that is fun about Bradley on both sides of the ball. He will be missed by me and many, many other Red Sox fans if he does indeed leave for greener pastures. As far as the game goes, Bradley ended the year by leading the team to a win. In addition to Bradley, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez each went deep and Nick Pivetta had another impressive start. For those wondering about draft position, the Orioles won while the Tigers lost, locking the Red Sox into the fourth position in the 2021 draft, assuming they just use 2020 record to determine the order.

Well, this was it. It’s been a bad year, both in reality and specifically with the Red Sox, but we’re all going to miss it whether we admit it or not. And one of the big storylines for this season finale for Boston was that it was very possibly Jackie Bradley Jr.’s last game in a Red Sox uniform. Granted, nothing is set in stone and I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if he is brought back for 2021, but I’d probably put the odds at less than 50 percent right now. Bradley has been here for a long time and technically played for two championship teams — he made his debut in 2013, if you’ll recall — but this may be the last time we see him do his thing.

And sure enough, Bradley made it count. The thing we’ll always remember him for the most is obviously his defense, and it would have been a real shame if we had to go out without him making one more mind-bending play in center field. Fortunately, he was not about to let that happen. In the third, Ozzie Albies got ahold of one and hit it to straightaway center. It brought Bradley all the way back to the wall, but he leaped up and made an impossible grab.

It wasn’t just the defense on display here, either. Bradley had a couple of very nice swings at the plate as well. He was in the leadoff spot for this one, and he got it going right away, slapping a double the other way to kick off the game. He would quickly come home and score the first run of the game, too, when Rafael Devers brought him home with a double of his own. Bradley also added another double in the seventh.

Meanwhile, in the fourth, he came up with nobody on and two outs as the offense was scuffling a little bit. He got things back on track when he got a slider that stayed right up and over the heart of the plate. Bradley jumped all over it, blasting it up and over the wall in right-center field for a solo homer. It was his seventh of the year, and it also happened to break a 1-1 tie.

While Bradley was the star of the show for this one, Nick Pivetta wasn’t too far behind. The righty was making a big second start after impressing in his debut Red Sox debut last week. It was sort of a weird outing for Pivetta in that he was still leaving a lot of fastballs over the heart of the plate, but he was able to maneuver the Braves lineup enough to get through five strong innings despite that.

He did make one big mistake, though, to Marcell Ozuna. The Braves slugger and MVP candidate terrorized Red Sox pitching when these two teams met in Fenway earlier this season. This time it was Pivetta getting the business as Ozuna hit an absolute moonshot in the bottom half of the first to tie the game up at one run apiece.

Pivetta also issued a walk in that first inning, but settled down a bit from there. He was perfect in the second with a pair of strikeouts, gave up just a single in the third (thanks in part to the catch by Bradley discussed above), and was perfect again in the fourth.

The fifth was a little more difficult. Boston was up by two at this point thanks to a solo homer from Xander Bogaerts in the top of the inning, but after a strikeout to lead off the bottom half Pivetta gave up a walk and a base hit to put two on with the heart of the order coming up. Freddie Freeman did hit a rocket, but fortunately it was right at Tzu-Wei Lin in right. Pivetta then got another lineout, this one by Ozuna to Jonathan Araúz at second, to escape the inning with the score still 3-1 Boston.

That would do it for Pivetta, who only allowed the one run over five innings with five strikeouts, two walks and four hits. It was only two starts, but he left the right impression with the team heading into the offseason to be sure.

After Pivetta left, Darwinzon Hernandez got the call out of the ‘pen for the sixth. The lefty didn’t have his best command with this one, getting one line out but otherwise issuing two walks and giving up a base hit to load the bases with just one out. Hernandez came back with a huge strikeout to get Tyler Flowers, leaving it up to Ender Inciarte. Hernandez won that battle with another strikeout to keep Boston up by two.

The offense then put the game away in the seventh thanks to a two-run homer from J.D. Martinez, an RBI double from Michael Chavis and a two-run base hit from Jonathan Araúz. Suddenly, they were sitting with an 8-1 lead and Ryan Weber got the call for the bottom of the inning. He quickly made his way through a scoreless inning.

Weber got the call for the bottom of the eighth as well, and he had another easy frame. That just left one more inning left for the season, and Mike Kickham got the honor of taking the mound for that one. He had another run of cushion after Jonathan Araúz smoked a solo homer, the first of his major-league career. Kickham had no trouble at all, tossing a 1-2-3 frame to end the win, and the season.

There is obviously no game tomorrow, or any time soon. The spring training schedule kicks off on February 26, and the regular season gets underway on April 1 at Fenway against the Orioles. We will, of course, be with you throughout the offseason, but with this being the final recap of the year let me use this opportunity to thank you all who have been with us all year. It’s been a brutal year in more ways than one, but you all made it easier on us and I hope we made things a little bit easier, at least for short bursts of times, for you. From everyone here at OTM, I extend a sincere thank you to everyone reading.


Courtesy of FanGraphs