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."