CHICAGO – Jacoby Ellsbury insisted that he had been having good at-bats. The only problem? He didn’t have much to show for it.
Before an eighth-inning single on Tuesday, he had been hitless in his last 10 at-bats. The month of May had been an exercise in futility for him. In 19 games, entering Wednesday’s road trip finale against the White Sox, he was hitting .185, going 15-for-81 with two extra base hits and 10 strikeouts, as his average fell from .283 to .242, his on-base percentage went from .336 to .307, and his slugging percentage declined from .416 to .335.
The first eight games of the nine-game road trip had been particularly difficult for Ellsbury. He got a day off on Sunday. But in the other seven games, he went 4-for-27, hitting .148 with no extra-base hits.
His performance had manager John Farrell wondering how long he could leave Ellsbury at the top of the order. If Shane Victorino had been available the last two games, with the White Sox starting lefties in both games, it is possible Ellsbury could have been dropped down or been given another game off.
But, in the final two games of the trip, Ellsbury gave hints that he is starting to with come out of his slump. In the two games, he went a combined 3-for-6 (all singles) with three walks, a run scored, and no strikeouts.
“Yeah, I think the last two nights, his at-bats are becoming more consistent,” Farrell said. “He stayed within a strike zone a little bit more regularly, took his walks. But in light of all that’s been made in the month of May with him, the last two nights have been very encouraging.”
“It feels good,” Ellsbury said. “Same approach that I’ve had, same game plan, everything pretty much the same. It’s just nice to get on base and create havoc and score a run tonight.”
Asked what kind of adjustments he has made, Ellsbury struggled to come up with an answer. He’s doing everything the same, he said.
“I feel like I’ve been having some pretty good AB’s. Fortunately tonight, I found some grass in the outfield. I’ve had quite a few of those same swings on balls that haven’t got out there. It’s just sticking with the plan, having a good approach. If you have a good approach, good plan, it’s a matter of time before good things happen.”
But, it’s nice to see results, too.
“Results are nice,” he said. “That’s what you go up there for, to have results. At the end of the day all you can do is hit the ball hard, but you hope it finds the grass.”
Here are some other notes as the Red Sox make their way back to Boston for a six-game home stand:
- The Red Sox finished the nine-game trip, their longest of the first half, at 6-3. They outscored opponents 47-28.
- At 15-9, the Sox are tied with Texas for the most road wins in the American League.
- The Sox are 19-3 when scoring first this season.
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw out two attempted base stealers in the game – Alejandro De Aza in the first inning, and Alex Rios in the sixth – both at second base. Saltalamacchia has now thrown out three of 21 would-be base stealers this season. He also fouled a ball off his right leg in the eighth inning, before striking out for the third time in the game. After the game Saltalamacchia said his leg was fine. “Some ice, some rest, and I’ll be good to go tomorrow,” he said.
- Koji Uehara pitched a perfect eighth, with two strikeouts. He needed just nine pitches, seven strikes to get out of the inning. He has not allowed a run in 17 of his 20 appearances this season.