BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox’ youth movement is in full swing, with the team starting five rookies Wednesday night. It was the earliest in a season the Sox had that many fresh faces in the lineup since 1952, so it’s clearly an unfamiliar July scene at Fenway Park.
Yet if the effort displayed by Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts was any indication of what’s to come this summer, I don’t think any fans are going to have a problem watching the kids play.
The first outstanding rookie play came in the top of the second inning. Rubby De La Rosa delivered an 0-2 breaking ball down and away to White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers.
Flowers went down and got it, putting a charge into a ball that looked headed toward the gap in right-center field.
It was then that everybody witnessed why so much praise has been heaped on Bradley for his defensive prowess.
Bradley got a great jump on the ball, running back and to his left, before leaping and sprawling out parallel to the ground to make an unbelievable grab.
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As NESN color commentator Jerry Remy noted, it looked like he sprung off a diving board.
That wasn’t the only highlight-reel play made in the outfield, though Jonny Gomes’ play in left field in the top of the seventh is equally worthy of ending up on the blooper reel.
Earlier in the game, Gomes had completely lost sight of a fly ball, putting his hands up in the air as a ball came down at the base of the Green Monster right down the line. By the seventh inning, the sun was no longer a problem, but Gomes still had trouble picking up a fly ball off the bat of Flowers.
Gomes tracked the ball to the base of the wall before trying to adjust at the last second. It didn’t work. The ball came flying down, hitting him in the head and bouncing into the corner.
Credit Gomes for his ability to recover, get the ball to the cutoff man, and initiate a 7-5-2 putout at the plate. You can watch that wild play on MLB.com.
And then, there was Mookie. The top infield prospect who has as the difficult job of learning how to play the outfield on the fly in the big leagues showed a level of smarts and hustle not often seen on the basepaths in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Sox were trailing 4-0 and were desperate to mount some sort of rally against White Sox starter Chris Sale when Betts hit a slow roller to shortstop. Alexei Ramirez ran to his right and charged before sending an off-balanced throw to first base. Betts beat the one-hopped throw to first and then, upon realizing that nobody was covering the second base bag, took off charging for the extra base.
First baseman Jose Abreu chased Betts, waiting for Ramirez to get to the bag. Abreu threw to Ramirez, but the shortstop was in a full sprint and had no way of stopping in time to put a tag on Betts, who slid in safely with the ultra-rare infield double.
You can watch that rare feat on MLB.com as well.
Betts ended up scoring that inning, the first of three runs, and the Sox went on to win 5-4, thanks to a walk-off single off the bat of rookie sensation Brock Holt.
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The 2014 Red Sox may end up falling well short of winning the World Series, but if Wednesday night was any indication, the kids are going to be all right at Fenway this summer.
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