BOSTON – With two outs in the sixth inning of the Red Sox 7-3 win over the Astros at Fenway Park, Jacoby Ellsbury singled to right-center, sending David Ross from first to third. With Jonny Gomes batting and second base open, Ellsbury stole second, making him a perfect 11-for-11 in stolen base attempts this season, best in the majors.
His 11 steals in April set a new team record, besting his own of 10 in 2009. It his second-longest successful streak of steals to begin a season behind 16 straight in 2008.
It also gave him 200 for his career, just the third Sox player to reach that mark, and the first in the live ball era, since 1920. Ellsbury joins Hall of Famers Harry Hooper, who had 300 in 1,647 games with the Sox, and Tris Speaker, who had 267 in 1,065 games. Ellsbury reached the 200-steals mark in just his 604th game.
“The biggest thing is Jake has got a real good feel for key points or trigger points on a given pitcher to be able to pick that out and get a very good jump,” said manager John Farrell. “When he gets a good jump, regardless if it’s a decent unloading time by a given pitcher, he feels confident and we’re confident in his base stealing ability. I think there was some question or reluctance in spring training and wondering if he was ever going to be aggressive, but I think he’s clearly shown that.
“When he’s healthy he’s one of the more dynamic players in the big leagues. And whether it’s on the basepaths or the ability for extra-base potential in the box, he’s doing that again.”
* At 16-7 the Sox are off to their best start since beginning 2002 with the same record. They are tied with the Rangers for the best record in baseball.
* The Sox’ 17 hits in the game were the most in a nine-inning game since recording 17 on July 7, 2012, against the Yankees, in the second game of a doubleheader.
* Mike Napoli went 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI. He now has 13 doubles and 18 extra-base hits this season, both new single-season Sox records for the month of April. The previous Sox records for doubles in April was 11, most recently by Ryan Sweeney in 2012, and for extra-base hits was 16 by Jose Offerman in 1999.
With 27 RBI in April, Napoli is four shy of Manny Ramirez’s team record for the month, set in 2001.
* David Ortiz when 1-for-4, with his second home run of the season, second in as many nights. With one out in the fifth he stroked a shot to straightaway center off Astros reliever Paul Clemens.
In six games since returning from the disabled list, he is hitting .500, going 12-for-24, with three doubles, two home runs, six RBI, and seven runs scored, for an .875 slugging percentage and .520 on-base percentage.
Ortiz has hit safely in 18 straight games since July 2, 2012, the longest streak of his Red Sox tenure, second-longest of his career behind a 19-gamer in 2002 while with the Twins.
* Will Middlebrooks went 2-for-4, with a run scored, an RBI, and his team-leading sixth home run of the season. He is hitting just .184, but nine of his 15 hits this season have been for extra bases, for a .425 SLG.
* Middlebrooks and Ross hit back-to-back home runs -- the third time this season Sox hitters have done so -- leading off the fourth.
* Ryan Dempster and Erik Bedard are the first Canadian-born pitchers to start against each other at Fenway Park.
* Joel Hanrahan began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket Friday night in Buffalo. He went one inning, giving up two runs on two hits, including a home run, with no walks and one strikeout. He threw 14 pitches, nine for strikes.
“Velocity was consistent with what we’ve seen,” Farrell said. “Gave up the base hit and then the two-run home run. So he checked out fine as far as physically, and he’ll have another appearance on Sunday.”