Ellsbury on top of things as hit streak at 17
When his hitting streak began April 21, Jacoby Ellsbury was hitting ninth in the Red Sox lineup. The next game, Ellsbury found himself atop the order, and he’s remained there since.
After extending the streak to 17 games yesterday, the longest active run in the American League, Ellsbury has cemented his spot as leadoff hitter. He ended up 3 for 5 with a double, a run, and a stolen base in a 9-5 trouncing of the Twins before a Fenway Park crowd of 37,526.
His average has improved from .182 to .295 during the streak. Over the 17 games, he’s batting .378.
“He’s been on base, he’s been able to run, he can go from first to third, he can steal a base,’’ said manager Terry Francona. “We’re a different team. The havoc that you see some other teams do to us, he’s able to do to them. They have to pay attention to him. It makes us a better team.’’
“I’ve just prepared the same every day,’’ said Ellsbury, whose three hits matched a season high. “I just come in and prepare like I always do . . . and keep it simple.’’
It’s hard to argue with the results.
“Obviously, he’s a dynamic player that when he’s getting on base, he takes the [pitcher’s] focus off the hitter,’’ said shortstop Jed Lowrie.
“Just knowing that if you get a hit, the team gets a run, it’s great,’’ said Adrian Gonzalez, who went 3 for 5 on his 29th birthday.
After Ellsbury singled and stole second in the third, Gonzalez drove him in with a single to center in a four-run outburst.
“He’s been doing an incredible job the last three weeks or so of finding ways to get on,’’ Gonzalez said. “He’s been drawing walks, getting hits and extra-base hits, and being aggressive on the bases, which just helps everybody.’’
After starter Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up three runs in the first inning, he wound up benefiting from the way the Ellsbury-led offense was humming.
“It’s nice picking guys up,’’ Ellsbury said. “Everybody doesn’t have to be rolling for us to score runs, but when that happens, it’s pretty fun.’’
In the fourth inning, Ellsbury was gunned down at second by right fielder Michael Cuddyer trying to stretch a single.
“It took a perfect throw and it could’ve gone either way, but that’s what you want to do in a situation like that,’’ said Ellsbury.
With each hit, the possibility of anyone else hitting leadoff seems more remote.
“He’s an explosive player and he can do a lot of things to score runs and start our offense,’’ said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. “He looks great. He looks like he did before he got hurt [last year].
“He’s a great player, and if he continues to do this, he’s going to score a ton of runs and do a lot of great things.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.