Notes: Ellsbury hitting his stride at the plate


Notes: Ellsbury hitting his stride at the plate

By SeanMcAdam

BALTIMORE -- The season is almost a month old, but Jacoby Ellsbury seems to be just now hitting his stride.

Ellsbury began the year poorly and found himself dropped in the batting order as manager Terry Francona tried desperately to find a lineup which worked.

Returned to the top of the order last week on the West Coast, Ellsbury has responded as the Red Sox hoped he would.

Thursday night, he had his second three-hit game in as many nights. Since moving to the top of the order in Anaheim, Ellsbury is 12-for-25 (.480) with six doubles, six runs scored and three RBI.

"I'm just trying to have a quality at-bat each time I go out there,'' said Ellsbury. "That's the biggest thing.''

Ellsbury said returning to the top spot in the lineup didn't change his approach.

"Not really,'' he said. "I come to play and prepare exactly the same every single day, no matter where I'm hitting in the lineup. It just happened that I've been swinging the bat well at the top of the lineup. I just try to stick to my game and use my tools.''

In the sixth inning, the Red Sox had runners at second and third and with first base open and two outs. With J.D. Drew due, the Orioles elected to walk him to load the bases and pitch to Saltalamacchia.

The move made sense from a strategic standpoint. Saltalamacchia came into the game hitting just .186 and was 0-for-2 before that at-bat.

But the move hurt Saltalamacchia's pride.

"It kind of ticked me off a little bit,'' acknowledged the catcher.

He couldn't get his revenge immediately, though Saltalamacchia had a nice at-bat which ended in him hitting the ball to the warning track in left-center for the final out.

"The way the ball's been traveling here at night,'' said the catcher, "I knew I hit it good, but I didn't hit it that good (for it to go out).''

But in the eighth, two innings later, Saltalamacchia got a second chance and didn't miss, drilling a single to center with the bases loaded, scoring Jed Lowrie.

"That's the way the game goes,'' said Saltalamacchia. "I was looking to put good wood on it and I did. I felt good at the plate. I fouled some pitches off and then (reliever Mike Gonzalez) threw a real good pitch up and in, and I was able to get on top of it.''

Kevin Youkilis felt some stiffness in his left hip after a first-inning takeout slide at second base. He remained in the game until the bottom of the eighth inning when he was lifted for Jed Lowrie at third base.

"As the game went on, it locked up a little more,'' said Youkilis. "But I should be good to play (Friday night). It was more of a precaution that Tito took me out. I'll play through a lot of stuff, but Tito said it was best to give it a rest so I can play (Friday).''

Fracona gave Marco Scutaro a start at shortstop.

"I want to keep him productive,'' said Francona.

Though there's been no official declaration from Francona, it's clear that Lowrie is the starting shortstop.

"He's pretty professional,'' said Francona of how Scutaro has been handling the reduced playing time. "I don't think he's real happy. I don't think I would be. Again, my responsibility is to put the best team out there and you hope that the players will handle it professionally, which he does.

"I'm not sure I'd want him to be completely happy. I mean, guys want to play. They're competitive.''

Scutaro was 0-for-4 in Thursday's win.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Drellich: Hanley Ramirez has to improve or Red Sox need to try others

Drellich: Hanley Ramirez has to improve or Red Sox need to try others

BOSTON — It doesn’t really matter what’s holding Hanley Ramirez back: his health, his desire to play at less-than-100 percent, neither, both. The Red Sox need him to produce more at the plate, as the designated hitter, or need to play someone who can produce more.

The suggestion of putting Ramirez on the disabled list so that his shoulders (and now, his left knee, where he was hit by a pitch Sunday) may heal is reasonable. If you can’t hit well — if you can’t even be in the lineup — why are you on the roster?

Ramirez was out for a second straight game Tuesday night. 

Flat-out benching Ramirez in favor of Chris Young or Sam Travis or both for a time makes sense too. Young will DH again Tuesday and Travis will start at first against Twins left-hander Hector Santiago. 

Try one, try all. The route to better production doesn’t matter. As long as the Sox get some, be it from Ramirez or somewhere else.

After Mitch Moreland, who’s playing with a fractured big toe on his left foot, homered and had another impactful night on Monday, Sox manager John Farrell made some comments that are hard to read as anything but a message to Ramirez.

“In his most recent stretch, he’s been able to get on top of some fastballs that have been at the top of the strike zone or above for some power obviously,” Farrell said. “But I think the way he’s gone about it given the physical condition he’s in, is a strong message to the remainder of this team.”

Tuesday is June 27. From May 27 on, Ramirez is hitting .202 with a .216 on-base percentage and .369 slugging percentage. 

In the final three months of the 2016 season, Ramirez hit .300 with a .379 OBP and .608 slugging percentage. That’s from the start of July through the end of the regular season. 

The potential for such a second-half surge is hard to ignore. The Sox need to figure out if Ramirez is healthy enough to give it to them, and if not, be willing to give someone else an extended look — be it with Ramirez on the bench or the DL.

Farrell suspended one game for last week's run-in with umpire

Farrell suspended one game for last week's run-in with umpire

BOSTON -- Red Sox manager John Farrell has been suspended one game because of Saturday night's scream-fest with umpire Bill Miller, when Farrell objected to a balk call made on Fernando Abad that led to an Angels run in the seventh inning.

Farrell is to serve the suspension on Tuesday night. He has also been fined.

Farrell and the umpire couldn't have been much closer to each other's face, and some contact was made.

"There was contact made, yes. I didn't bump him though," Farrell said a day later. "The tip of my finger touched his shirt."

Miller has ejected Farrell three times, more than any other umpire.

"No, honestly I didn't even know that, someone's brought to my attention that it's been the third time," Farrell said Sunday when asked if that history played in. "I don't have a tote board of who's done what and how many times