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Bradley belts a pair for Pawtucket07/03/2013 12:33 AM ET
By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com
Jackie Bradley Jr. has hit six Triple-A home runs this season and there's been a common denominator in each one.
"I think all six of my home runs have gone to the same spot," the Red Sox's No. 2 prospect said with a laugh. "All six of them."
That spot is just beyond the right-center field fence, and MLB.com's No. 29 overall prospect spoiled fans at McCoy Stadium with two more souvenirs Tuesday night in Pawtucket's 6-4 loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Bradley hit his first homer in the bottom of the third inning off RailRiders starter Chris Bootcheck. After falling behind, 2-0, the veteran right-hander worked the count back to 2-2 with consecutive inside cutters to the left-handed hitter.
Bootcheck threw the same pitch a third straight time, but Bradley was ready. He put a confident swing on the offering, dropping the barrel on the down-and-in pitch and sending it over the right-center field wall.
"He was painting the inside corner with that cutter," Bradley said. "I just took it and gave it to him. I just sat on that pitch and I got it again for a third time in a row, and I put a good swing on it."
Bradley faced Bootcheck once more in the fifth, and the former Major Leaguer mostly stayed away from the 23-year-old outfielder. He took a breaking pitch away for strike one, then watched a changeup sail over his head. The next pitch was a fastball that missed down and in, but Bradley swung over it on what may have been a hit-and-run call -- Jeremy Hazelbaker stole second on the play.
With Bradley again in a 2-1 count, Bootcheck declined to come back inside, instead attempting to spot a pitch on the outside corner. Bradley extended his hands and again dropped barrel to ball, driving a liner that pushed left fielder Corey Patterson to within feet of the warning track before he reeled it in.
Bradley's final at-bat came against sidearming right-hander Yoshinori Tateyama leading off the eighth. He took a fastball on the outside corner to fall behind, 0-1.
"It was late in the game and we were behind," Bradley said. "I wanted to see a pitch, try to get his pitch count up. You don't want to go up as the first guy up there and get out. I wanted to kind of work the count a little bit. He got a strike on me, and then it was fair game."
The next pitch was a hanging changeup. The difference in velocity got Bradley slightly off-balance, but he managed to stay back long enough to lift the ball toward right field. It carried over the fence and fell into the same section of seats as his first dinger.
"I actually wasn't looking for that," Bradley said. "He left the changeup up in the zone. I saw it up and I attacked it like it was a fastball and I got it in the air and happened to slip one out of there."
The University of South Carolina product has hit three of his six International League homers in his past eight games. He's batting .283 with a .943 OPS over his past 10 contests as he's snapped out of a slump that dropped his average in June to .256.
Bradley has had two stints in the big leagues this season. He began the year with a 12-game stay with Boston, then rejoined the Red Sox on May 29 for seven more games. He's hitting .154 with six walks in the Majors and impressed early with his plate discipline.
Returning to Triple-A is allowing Bradley to smooth the edges on his fairly polished game.
"The more you play the game, the more you learn," he said. "With the few games in the big leagues, I definitely got a lot out of it. I was able to bring it back down here to the Minor Leagues to use it to build and get better."