BOSTON -- The Cleveland series exposed the one glaring issue that arises when batters are on a lengthy hitting streak -- pitchers will stop pitching to you.
Although the word apparently didn’t reach them about Xander Bogaerts, who now has a 16-game hitting streak of his own, Terry Francona’s pitchers avoided Jackie Bradley, Jr. like the plague. After getting walked three times in the Kansas City series that preceded the Indians' visit to Fenway Park -- a season high in a series until that point for Bradley -- he was walked six times by Cleveland over the weekend.
In games 14 through 19 of Bradley’s 27-game streak he was 15-for-25 (.600), clearly the height of his performance in that span. Since game 20, he’s hitting .346 -- still very impressive -- but he’s only had one multi-hit game through his last eight games of his streak.
And in three of his last five games, he hasn’t gotten a hit until there have been at least two turns through the lineup.
“He’s addressing any different type of pitch thrown at him,” John Farrell said of Bradley following Sunday’s 5-2 win. “Yesterday and today, knowing that they might pitch him carefully, he’s not expanding the strike zone.”
While the walks are a testament to his impressive run, Bradley isn’t looking for any free passes. Because instead of getting three at-bats where pitchers are going after him, he’s often getting two, sometimes one at-bat with pitches he can work with.
“[I’m] just trying to see good pitches, put good swings on them and take what they’re giving me,” JBJ said about his late-game adjustments.
He claims he hasn’t noticed any tendencies from pitchers throughout the streak -- even though it seems that every single is on a pitch down and away, while every extra-base hit is a mistake on the inner half.
Either way, a few things can be said from the last eight games of JBJ’s streak.
The obvious first is his walk total is going to go up, giving him fewer opportunities to extend the streak.
Second, the real JBJ is starting to show himself. The question, “What’s going to happen when he cools down?” that arose during the point of the streak where he hit .600, is already being answered.
Bradley is showing that he’s not the same free-swinging kid Boston rushed up in 2013. He will wait for his pitch -- and take advantage of it when he gets it.