Ellsbury gives Sox, fans something to cheer about on birthday

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Ellsbury gives Sox, fans something to cheer about on birthday

BOSTON Like most of his teammates, Jacoby Ellsbury has not had the kind of year he would like, especially as a follow-up to last season when he was the American League MVP runner-up. Limited by injury to just 70 games, he entered Tuesdays series opener against the Yankees batting .257, with three home runs, 18 RBI, 37 runs scored, a .363 slugging percentage and .299 on-base percentage.

But, he gave the Red Sox and himself something to celebrate on his 29th birthday: a walkoff win, just the third of the season for the Sox.

Weve seen a lot of walkoffs this year and we havent celebrated enough, said manager Bobby Valentine. Im happy for the guys. Theyre all smiling.

With one out in the ninth, the score tied, Pedro Ciriaco on second and Mike Aviles on first, Ellsbury took a 1-and-1 changeup from David Robertson and drove it into right field. Ciriaco raced around third, sliding home with the winning run ahead of the throw from Ichiro Suzuki.

Ciri and Mike did a good job of getting in scoring position and I knew if I hit something to the outfield Ciris going to score with his speed, Ellsbury said. Just trying to drive something, just trying to hit something on the nose and allow Ciri to use his speed.

Ill take Ciris speed and the deep right field at Fenway, Ill take Ciris speed any day.

Ellsbury and Carl Yastrzemski (in 1961 and 1976) are the only Red Sox players since 1918 with walkoff hits on their birthdays. It was the third walkoff hit of Ellsburys career and first since Aug. 3, 2011, against the Indians.

Its nice on any day but especially on your birthday, Ellsbury.

The Sox have had precious little to celebrate this season. Any win is welcome, but a walkoff is special.

"It's one of the only times that you can stand out there as a professional and act like kids, said Cody Ross. The only time you can bounce around and have fun and act like a bunch of 15 year olds. So it's a good time."

And especially against the division rival Yankees.

That was a great feeling, Ellsbury said. The fans were great tonight. They were into the game, energetic and we just want to keep putting on a show for them the rest of the season with the games we have left.

In his 10 previous games entering Tuesday, Ellsbury had hit just .150, going 6-for-40 with a home run, two RBI, and a walk, with six strikeouts. On Tuesday, back in the lead-off spot, he went 4-for-5 with a double, a run scored, and two RBI, adding 18 points to his average.

I just know its a matter of time. The more at-bats I get the better its going to be, Ellsbury said. Very nice win, to go out there and put a show on for the fans.

"Everyone saw what he did last year, Ross said. He's an MVP-type player that has the potential to do anything. We got to see it tonight and hopefully he can keep it going."

Sox may have finally found their everyday third baseman for the postseason

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Sox may have finally found their everyday third baseman for the postseason

BOSTON — As has been well-documented, the Red Sox have tried any number of solutions at third base this season, with eight different players getting starts at the position.

Travis Shaw has the most starts of anyone, with 99. But with three games left in the season, it's become apparent that Brock Holt is being viewed as the likely starter in the post-season.

Holt started all three games in the recent series in New York and was the starter Friday night against Toronto, too.

"You look at the consistent quality to the at-bats," said John Farrell, "and they've been there for him. That's not to say the other guys aren't important to us. But this is the time of year where you're looking to put the best, current lineup on the field and his versatility has shown up a number of ways. He's a confident defender at third base and his skill set is a little bit different from the other guys.

"So against righthanded pitching, that could be the guy we're going with."

Holt came into Friday hitting .319 (22-for-69) in the last 24 games.

Shaw, meanwhile, has been streaky to a fault. In the second half of the season, Shaw has posted a slash line of .195/.260/.362.

"We've seen (the streakiness both ways) in short spurts," Farrell said. "He does have the ability to carry us. But we're trying to get there and we're at a point in the year where every game is meaningful. That's not to say you turn your back on what he did earlier in the season. But we're looking for sparks somewhere."

What's more, Farrell had Holt hitting second in the lineup, in an effort to produce more offense. The Sox were limited to just eight runs in the three-game series at Yankee Stadium, and over the last 11 games, scored more than five runs just once.

Holt hit second, with Xander Bogaerts dropped to sixth.

"This is to create a little bit of a spark for us offensively," explained Farrell. "We've been grinding a little bit. And also, (we want) to create a little more (left-right) balance up and down the lineup."

TIME TO PLAY

As the final few regular season games of his career wind down, David Ortiz acknowledged that it's becoming increasing difficult to focus on the games with all the tributes and ceremonies going on.

In the final 11 days of the season, Ortiz will have had five pre-game ceremonies held in his honor -- and it would have been six had not Ortiz asked the Tampa Bay Rays to cancel the ceremony they had planned in the aftermath of the death that morning of pitcher Jose Fernandez.

On Thursday night, Ortiz has his family on the field for a pre-game celebration hosted by the New York Yankees.

Minutes later, he had to step in to the batter's box against CC Sabathia. Sometimes, it's hard to flip that switch and be emotionally ready to compete.

"I'm not going to lie to you -- it has (gotten harder)," said Ortiz. "We're already in the playoffs, so for the next three days, I don't really have to worry about it. But the best thing about it is that once we get into the playoffs, there's not going to be all these distractions.

"I like to mentally focus when we play, especially when I'm playing for a reason. We work extremely hard during the regular season to get into the playoffs and once we get there, I don't want to blow that off. It's not easy to (do all the ceremonies) and play baseball at the same time. It can be a distraction."

Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: Porcello goes for win No. 23

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Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: Porcello goes for win No. 23

The A.L. East-champion Red Sox, still fighting for playoff position, field their usual lineup as they open David Ortiz's final regular-season series tonight (7:10) against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox (92-67) are two games behind the Texas Rangers (94-65) in the race for the best record in the A.L., with the Cleveland Indians (91-67) a half-game behind Boston.

Rick Porcello (22-4, 3.11 ERA), the likely Game 1 starter in the ALDS, will try to add to his Cy Young Award resume tonight. He’ll be opposed by right-hander Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.53).

The Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles (both 87-72) are tied for the A.L. wild-card lead with the Detroit Tigers (85-73) 1 1/2 games back.

It’s the final regular season series for Oritz, with ceremonies planned to honor the retiring Red Sox DH prior to each of the final three game this weekend. 

The lineups:

RED SOX

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Brock Holt 3B

Mookie Betts RF

David Ortiz DH

Hanely Ramirez 1B

Xander Bogaerts SS

Jackie Bradley CF

Sandy Leon C

Andrew Benintendi LF

Rick Porcello P

 

BLUE JAYS

Eziquiel Carrera LF

Josh Donaldson 3B

Edwin Encarnacion DH

Jose Bautista RF

Russell Martin C

Troy Tulowitzki SS

Justin Smoak 1B

Kevin Pillar CF

Devon Travis 2B

Marco Estrada RHP