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Jacoby Ellsbury saves Boston’s bacon with 14th-inning homer

Sep 25, 2011, 11:52 PM EDT

Jacoby Ellsbury, Marco Scutaro AP

source: APThis story could have been about Terry Francona dropping the ball.  Fortunately for the Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury was there to bail out his manager, with plenty of help from Boston’s bullpen.

Ellsbury, who hit his 29th and 30th homers in a 6-2 loss in the first game Sunday, delivered a three-run bomb off Scott Proctor in the 14th inning of the nightcap, giving Boston a 7-4 win over the Yankees and a one-game lead in the wild card with three games left to play.

It’s going to be a tough sell with Justin Verlander getting so much hype, but Ellsbury’ superb late-season run has made him a serious MVP candidate.  He’s hitting .368 with seven homers, 10 doubles, 20 runs scored and 19 RBI in 106 at-bats this month.  He has 20 homers, 55 runs scored and 54 RBI in 66 games during the second half.

The bullpen also stepped up big for the Red Sox.  With the score tied at 4, Jonathan Papelbon got Daniel Bard out of a bases-loaded jam by striking out Austin Romine to end the ninth and then stayed in to pitch scoreless 10th and 11th innings.  It’s just the second time he’s pitched two innings this year and the second time in five years that he’s gotten as many as seven outs.

Relieving Papelbon in the 12th was Franklin Morales, who turned in two scoreless innings of his own.  Felix Doubront worked the 14th for a save.

The Red Sox may well have won this one in regulation if Francona hadn’t dropped the ball.  John Lackey bounced back from a three-run first to give the Red Sox a very solid outing, but for some reason, Francona sent him back out for the seventh with a 4-3 lead, even though Alfredo Aceves had already started warming up in the sixth.  Lackey gave up a leadoff single to Eric Chavez and was immeditely pulled.  The Yankees went on to tie the game after pinch-runner Brett Gardner stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a sac fly.

Four months ago, the shoe was on the other foot.  Yankees manager Joe Girardi sent Bartolo Colon back out for the seventh in a 2-2 game against the Red Sox, only to pull him after Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled to start the inning.  The Red Sox ended up with three runs in the inning and won 5-4.

As I wrote then, if a starting pitcher is just one mistake away from getting pulled, you don’t send him back out to make the mistake.  It’s a foolish way to manage, and while it didn’t cost the Red Sox a win tonight, it may very well cost them Monday after the team had to extend Papelbon, Morales and Bard in this one.

But the Red Sox will carry some momentum with them into the series against the Orioles.  It would have a morose flight to Baltimore had the Red Sox lost this one in extras.  Now they don’t have to depend on the Yankees beating the Rays this week; they can just go ahead and take care of business themselves.

  1. Old Gator - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:03 AM

    The Borg got Proctorscoped in game two. He’s just awful; he almost makes you wish the FAT TOAD was back. Trade him heads up for Lackey this weenter.

    Austin Romine might be the worst situational hitter not wearing teal this season. It wasn’t so much his striking out with the bases loaded, but in taking three called strikes in his next at-bat, as if he were afraid that if he swung he might hit something.

    The Beanbags live to fight another day – but it’s only one game. This is going down to the wire.

    • marshmallowsnake - Sep 26, 2011 at 11:55 AM

      Beanbags? Really?

    • foreverchipper10 - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:09 PM

      Eh, kind of wrong to say that about Irabu considering…..

  2. daisycutter1 - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:06 AM

    Eh, it still took 14 innings for the Sox to beat a lineup made up mostly of the Yankees AAA team and even then they could strike only when the Yankees’ absolute worst reliever was on the mound.

    I agree with Old Gator…this one is going right down to the wire.

  3. pisano - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:14 AM

    Gator… you’re 100% on about Proctor, the first time out after they signed him he was ok, but after that he’s the same old Proctor. I’m sure within the next few days we’ll be hearing about his release.

  4. Ben - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:19 AM

    He’s gotta be the MVP this year.

  5. sawxalicious - Sep 26, 2011 at 12:39 AM

    M-V-P!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. bigleagues - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:07 AM

    Obviously there are those who will color this Win however they like. In the end a Win is a Win is a Win. Not to mention that going into this weekend, this was the one the Sox were least likely to win with Nova against Lackey.

    He (Ellsbury) is hitting .368 with seven homers, 10 doubles, 20 runs scored and 19 RBI in 106 at-bats this month. He has 20 homers, 55 runs scored and 54 RBI in 66 games during the second half.

    The sub-headline is that Jacoby Ellsbury is defining the M.V. in MVP and people still don’t seem to get it. He has clearly outplayed and been more valuable than any other player on the Red Sox. And you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has outplayed Ellsbury in the 2nd half.

    Ellsbury has hit safely in 23 out of the 24 games played this month; 22 out of 25 games in August; and 22 out of 25 games in July. Overall he has hit safely in 67 of his last 74 Games. He hasn’t had back-to-back hitless games since late June.

    The 3 HR’s today helped push his TB count to 356.

    He has 31 HR, 117 Runs and 103 RBI as the Red Sox lead-off hitter.

    Add to all that Ellsbury’s excellent defense and the fact that he led WAR entering Sunday’s games and I don’t know how Ellsbury isn’t the Most Valuable Player in the American League. I have no problem with a SP winning the MVP, but there is no way that Verlander has been more valuable to the Tigers than Ellsbury has been to the Red Sox.

    • aceshigh11 - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:47 AM

      The man’s had an incredible year.

      The ironic thing is that, because the Sox have so much payroll tied up in the disappointing Crawford, they might have to let Ellsbury walk, especially with him being a Boras client…

      …at least, that’s what the “experts” are saying.

      I don’t think they’re right, though…Boston will get it done. Ellsbury NEEDS to stay on this team, even with the other offensive talent they have locked up.

      • ditto65 - Sep 26, 2011 at 6:58 AM

        Rememberwhen Youk tried to run him out of town last year? Guess who will be shown the door first…

      • bigleagues - Sep 26, 2011 at 8:48 AM

        I 100% agree. There is no way they let Ellsbury get away without a fight. And it wouldn’t even surprise me if they sat down with Boras and ask how much it would take to keep him off the market.

  7. sawxalicious - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:19 AM

    Reasons Ellsbury shoub be MVP:

    1) Power and Run production from lead-off spot (31 HR, 103 RBI)
    2) Superior base runner and base stealer (38 SB, 117 runs)
    3) Clutch hitter (see story above)
    4) Is on a winning (hopefully) playoff bound team

    Admittedly, Ellsbury is second to Bautista in position player B-R WAR (8.6 to 7.1), however plays a more demanding position, offers more speed, and has been great the whole year and on fire during the second half. If Bautista or Verlander get it, I won’t be upset, as all are great candidates, but my vote (if I had one) would be for the Red Sox Center Fielder.

    • aceshigh11 - Sep 26, 2011 at 3:47 AM

      I agree.

      How nice it would be for Sox fans to see both Pedroia (2008) and Ellsbury possibly win MVPs in their young careers.

      Time goes by quickly, but it’s been a pleasure watching the homegrown talent mature into such great players.

    • cktai - Sep 26, 2011 at 5:20 AM

      I won’t mind it at all if Ellsbury wins the MVP, he has been great and he is certainly deserving. What I’m not so happy about is the way you used the stats. For the following reasons.

      1) Clutch is impossible to define and even harder to judge while watching. It relies greatly on perception bias and anecdotal evidence. Looking at the stats we see that while Ellsbury has been superior in 2 out, RISP situations, Bautista has been far better than Ellsbury late in close games. (see B-R)
      2) “a more demanding position” and “offers more speed” are both factors that are already implimented in B-R WAR. These factors combined give Ellsbury 10 than Bautista.

      If you wanted to dismiss B-R WAR, the easy thing was to point at fWAR and the lead that Ellsbury has over Bautista there.

      Once again i have nothing against Ellsbury as MVP, but you have to have valid reasons, and there are plenty.

  8. rollinghighwayblues - Sep 26, 2011 at 1:47 AM

    I listened to both games on XM radio as I was driving and my thoughts as I listened to the entire 23 inning escapade was, “Chris Singleton has about as much baseball knowledge and personality as the 32-foot gooseneck trailer I’m hauling.” I know the guy hit 273 points above me in professional baseball but come on…talk about a dumbshit,

    Remember when everyone at this time last year was asking for Ellsbury’s head because he was “soft”?
    It’s amazing what a .320 batting average and .914 OPS can do to muzzle all the side chatter.

    • aceshigh11 - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:49 AM

      That first paragraph made me chuckle heartily. You played professional ball?

      • rollinghighwayblues - Sep 26, 2011 at 2:54 AM

        I wish, Aces…I wish. I’m just a collegiate baseball player waiting for the call to the bigs..something tells me that phone may never ring. I said he hit 273 points higher than me because Singleton’s career batting average was .273 and mine is a goose egg, professionally speaking.

  9. proudlycanadian - Sep 26, 2011 at 8:32 AM

    Congratulations to the baconater for finally ending the game. This does not make him the MVP. He is not the best position player in the league The best position player on the Red Sox is hurting, otherwise Sox fans would be touting Gonzalez.

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