OAKLAND — Jackie Bradley Jr. turned in the play of the night Friday, a home run-robbing catch in the bottom of the ninth that will live on in highlight shows for the rest of the year.
The A’s turned in their own brand of excellent defense, however, and it was a big key to a 3-2 10-inning victory over the Red Sox that gave them their third win in the past four games.
When talk centers around defensive play, it usually hasn’t been positive for Oakland in 2017. They lead the majors with 38 errors and entered the night tied with San Diego for the major league lead in unearned runs. But they turned in several impressive plays to back starter Kendall Graveman and four relievers in front of a fireworks night crowd of 24,728 at the Coliseum.
“It’s a game where you have to be good defensively. They were too,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Hopefully that’s not what beats you. A lot of times at the end of close games it does. But it didn’t for us tonight.”
Third baseman Trevor Plouffe, after making a throwing error earlier in the game, made a terrific backhand stop and long throw to first — with Ryon Healy digging the ball out of the dirt — to get Graveman out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth.
The A’s best sequence in the field came in the top of the seventh with the score 2-2. With a runner on first after Ryan Madson issued a leadoff walk, second baseman Jed Lowrie went up the middle to cut off Mookie Betts grounder and flipped to second for a force out on a close play. Right after that, Betts tried to steal second and catcher Josh Phegley snapped off a quick throw to nail him, with shortstop Adam Rosales fielding the short hop and putting down a quick tag.
Khris Davis added a running catch in the left field corner to end the top of the 10th and set the stage for Mark Canha’s walk-off homer.
Before the game, injured shortstop Marcus Semien praised Rosales’ play at short in his absence.
“He definitely has one of the best arms I’ve seen at shortstop,” Semien said. “He’s doing a great job considering he hasn’t had an everyday role for a while, especially at shortstop.”
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Healy launched a drive toward right-center that looked like it might be the game winner. But Bradley Jr. leapt high and made a sensational grab over the wall to send the game to extras.
“He’s a great center fielder,” Healy said. “I don’t know if surprised is the right word. It’s not something I want to see ever again. But hat’s off to him.”
Matched up against Boston’s Chris Sale, Graveman pitched well with six innings of two-run ball. He struck out five and walked three over 105 pitches.