Ellsbury gives Sox, fans something to cheer about on birthday


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."

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.