Ellsbury returns; Melancon showing improvement

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Ellsbury returns; Melancon showing improvement

After a week on the shelf, Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the lineup following an undisclosed injury.

Ellsbury instructed team officials that he didn't want the nature of his injury revealed to the media, but a major league source indicated that the outfielder had been suffering from a pulled lat muscle.

"Hopefully, he won't have any (soreness),'' said manager Bobby Valentine, "and he'll play the next few days and go home on a good note.''

Valentine said Ellsbury returned to the lineup "because he wanted to, and he's a good player and it's a pennant race that teams are in and we should put our best foot forward.''

Ellsbury missed almost the entire first half of the season with a more serious injury -- a separated shoulder. He's been healthy enough to play about half the season but hasn't put together anywhere close to the year he had last year, when he finished second in the A.L. MVP race.

Entering Saturday night, Ellsbury was hitting just .277 with four homers and 26 RBI. His on-base percentage was just .321 and his slugging percentage was a mere .382.

Valentine said in spring training that he thought Ellsbury should have been the MVP in 2011, but admitted Saturday that he didn't see the outfielder repeat that kind of play in 2012.

"I didn't see him play that way this year, no,'' acknowledged Valentine. "He never quite hit his stride this year. I've had a lot of conversations with the coaching staff about it and a few with Jacoby about it. I don't know...he hasn't had the feel, from what I gather.''

Reliever Mark Melancon got off to a poor start this season and was demoted to Triple A within the first two weeks. He spent several months in Pawtucket, but even after being recalled, couldn't seem to establish himself as a pitcher who could be trusted in the Red Sox' bullpen.

But of late, Melancon has been much better. In his seven September outings, he has a 1.08 ERA, having allowed just one earned run this month while striking out 12 in the last 8 13 innings.

In fact, since Aug. 1, he's held opposing hitters to a .220 batting average while averaging 24 strikeouts in 21 13 innings.

"His curveball is getting swings and misses,'' said Valentine, "and he's getting called strikes. I believe that pitch has improved with arm speed and deception. His ability to work both sides of the plate effectively in his last five or six outings has really made the difference.

"(Early in the season) he got hit early in the count and maybe got behind and stayed away from a lot of righthanded hitters. But he's throwing the ball well now and that's important.''

Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz in 'attack mode'

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Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz in 'attack mode'

CHICAGO -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 5-2 win over the White Sox:

 

QUOTES

"I think the most encouraging thing was after a couple of hard-hit balls early on, he was still in attack mode.'' - John Farrell on Clay Buchholz.

"The biggest thing centers around his fastball. First inning, he might have been up a little bit. But after that, he was down in the zone and the curveball was a good compliment to that.'' - Farrell.

"Man, I tell you what -- he does it in such big moments.'' - Farrell on David Ortiz.

"If you could paint a picture, I think tonight would be just about what everybody would want to do.'' - Buchholz on his outing.

"I think everybody would be lying if they said they didn't see your numbers; you see them every day. (Being) 0-3 with a six-something (ERA) is obviously not where you want to be.'' - Buchholz.

"Hopefully, this is the start of something good coming out of him.'' - Ortiz on Buchholz.

"You feel like the luckiest man on planet earth - finally hitting the ball where no one's at!'' - Ortiz on beating the shift with a single through the shortstop hole in the seventh

 

NOTES

* When the Red Sox homer, they're 11-6.

* Clay Buchholz's win was his first since last July 10.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 10 games.

* Mookie Betts has scored at least one run in 10 of his last 14 games.

* David Ortiz is now one homer from tying Carl Yastrzemski for second-most homers in franchise history at 452.

* Ortiz tied Gary Sheffield for 25th place all-time in homers with 509.

 

STARS

1) Clay Buchholz

After five straight poor outings, Buchholz turned in a gem, giving up two runs in the first, then nothing else for the next six innings.

2) David Ortiz

As he so often does, Ortiz delivered when the Red Sox needed him most, clocking a two-run homer in the fifth to turn a one-run deficit into a two-run lead.

3) Jose Abreu

The White Sox slugger belted a two-run homer in the first to give him five RBI in the two games in this series.