By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON As if trying to assure his fellow players they did the right thing by electing him to the American League All-Star team, Jacoby Ellsbury has flat-out sizzled since his selection was announced.
Wednesday night's 3-for-5 performance in the Red Sox' 6-4 win over the Blue Jays puts him at 9-for-18 with a home run and two stolen bases from the time he was named to the team.
Im just relaxing, having fun, he said. Its such an honor to be selected by my peers to the All-Star Game. Those are the guys that see you play in spring training and during the regular season. I'm just relaxing and having fun.
Hes strong, manager Terry Francona said. Hes wiry strong. When he gets under a ball and it backspins, it goes a long way. Hes been terrific in the outfield, on the bases and at the plate. Hes settled into that leadoff role and hes been terrific.
Hes also made some sparkling plays in the field. One of those plays includes a catch that will never make it into the record books. With one out in the fifth inning Wednesday night, a runner on first and Eric Thames batting, Ellsbury ran into the center-field wall as he tracked down Thames' fly ball to deep center. The only problem: Time had been called and the catch didnt count. After a brief delay to clear up the confusion -- plate umpire Tim McClelland made no motion to indicate time had been called until after the ball was hit -- Thames eventually struck out.
I didnt realize the catch didn't count until I came in, Ellsbury said. I didnt even know what happened. Fortunately, I didnt crash into the wall harder than I did. Never had anything like that before.
But there was no doubt in the bottom of the first, when he launched a leadoff home run off Ricky Romero. It was Ellsburys third lead-off homer of the season, sixth of his career. It was also a career-high 10th home run of the season for him.
I was just trying to get a pitch I could drive, he said. Fortunately, he gave me something over the plate.
He was also a key in the Sox two-out, four-run rally in the fourth inning, with a double off thewall in left-center to score two runs.
I thought our whole lineup swung the bat well tonight, he said. Thats huge. Guys in scoring position. Any time you get the bottom of the order rolling, youre going to score some runs.
It was Ellsburys 12th three-hit game of the season. He is now batting .310 this season. Leading off games, he is batting .343.
When he first got here, I knew he was going to be a great player, said Tim Wakefield, who got the win. Hes got all five tools and hes taking advantage of the opportunity hes been given. Hes gotten better. Hes maturing. Hes an All-Star. What more can you say?
Right-hander Clay Buchholz, on the disabled list because of a lower back strain, returned to Boston after being examined Wednesday morning by Dr. Craig Brigham in Charlotte, N.C.
After the game, the Sox issued a statement from team medical director Dr. Tom Gill:
Clay Buchholz was seen in consultation by Dr. Craig Brigham today in Charlotte. Dr. Brigham agreed with the teams assessment that the back symptoms can be treated with rehabilitation. Clay will be advanced in his activities as his symptoms allow."
With Adrian Gonzalez getting a day off, Kevin Youkilis played first base for the first time this season. Batting in the fifth spot for the fifth time, he went 3-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. raising his average to .277. He hit his 12th home run of the season leading off the second inning. It was his first home run in the fifth spot since June 14, 2008, at Cincinnati. He has reached base safely in a season-high 18 straight games. In his last 20 games since June 12, he as driven in 20 runs, batting .343 (24-for-70) with six doubles and four home runs.
Hes also been dealing with assorted dings, including being hit by a pitch in the upper left back from Brandon Morrow Monday night.
My left shoulder is a little tight, he said. Basically lifting it up a little bit and moving it backwards is a little tight. But hitting-wise, luckily, there's no affect; mainly its if I have to dive and throw the ball . . .
"Tomorrow and the next day, itll be feeling better. Its just one of those things that the fluid and swelling moves out and hopefully tomorrow Ill feel great.
Gonzalez missed his first game of the year, having played in all 85 games prior to Wednesday night. With Youkilis at first, Yamaico Navarro played third.
Gonzalez had a stiff neck last night, Francona said before Wednesday's game. We talked after the game and he said, You know, I know you talk about guys having days off and he hasnt had one. I said call me in the morning let me know how you're doing. He said, I really dont see the ball off Romero that well.
He hasnt had one day off yet. When players don't put up a fight about getting a day off, sometimes it's an indication guys need a day. So itll be good for him."
The game was delayed by rain for 40 minutes with two outs in the top of the eighth. Daniel Bard had started the inning, but Dan Wheeler came out after the delay.
Bard extended his career-high scoreless inning streak to 17, retiring the only two batters he faced before the delay. In that stretch, Bard has allowed just nine baserunners on five singles and four walks with 17 strikeouts.
Dustin Pedroia extended his on-base streak to a season-high 20 games with a first-inning single, passingEllsburys 19-game stretch for longest on the team this season.
The Sox batted around in the four-run fourth. It is the 17th time his season they have done so. They entered the game tied with Colorado for most times batting around this season with 16.
The Sox' five consecutive hits in the fourth tie their season high, with the fifth inning against the Blue Jays on June 11.
Left-hander Rich Hill, on the DL after Tommy John surgery, said the range of motion in his elbow and shoulder is almost back to normal.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.