Ellsbury Runs Over Phils, Sox Win 9-2

It was the Jacoby Ellsbury show on Thursday night in Philadelphia, as the Red Sox beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 9-2, and earned a split against their NL rivals. In the victory, Ellsbury set yet another team record in the stolen base department, swiping five bags off of Philadelphia, breaking a record he had shared with former Sox second baseman and current NESN color analyst Jerry Remy.

The Red Sox got to Phillies starter John Pettibone for four runs in the first inning to provide spot-starter Franklin Morales with some early support. Ellsbury led off with a single and actually did not steal a base, as Daniel Nava singled after him to get Ells to third with nobody out.  Dustin Pedroia brought the centerfielder home with an RBI ground-out, followed by a walk to David Ortiz (playing his first game in the field at first base this season). Mike Carp then notched a base hit to right to score Nava to make it 2-0 Red Sox. One out later, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled to left field to bring around Ortiz and Carp, as Boston scorched Philadelphia for a 4-0 lead before the Phillies took an at-bat.

Morales looked to have a bit of rust in the Phillies half of the first, as Delmon Young launched a two-run home run, which has been the Phillies primary weapon against Boston this week.  Red Sox killer Domonic Brown then dumped a single to right, his first hit against the Sox that stayed within the fences.  Fortunately for Morales, Saltalamacchia got a rare caught stealing when he gunned down Brown trying to impersonate Ellsbury.

Ellsbury set up his first steal of the night with a second inning walk, later swiping second base off Pettibone and catcher Erik Kratz. He was stranded there, however, as David Ortiz could not come through with Ellsbury and Pedroia on; flying out to end the inning for Boston. Ellsbury would add another steal in the fourth swiping second base.  Again, he was stranded on back-to-back fly outs by Nava and Pedroia.

Philadelphia was retired in order by Morales in the second and third innings, but they came back to threaten in the fourth. Jimmy Rollins led off with a walk, and one out later, Brown added his second hit of the night.  On four pitches, first baseman Kevin Frandsen walked to load the bases as Morales seemed to hit a wall.  Coming up next was Kratz, who, like Brown, has looked like a Hank Aaron against Boston this week, and the Phillies looked poise to tie the game, and perhaps more.  The Red Sox defense, however, came through with a huge double play when Kratz grounded a one-hopper to Stephen Drew.  Drew fed Pedroia, who made a fantastic off-balance return throw to first to get Kratz by a step to help Morales out of the jam.  The score held at 4-2 for the Red Sox.

Asked of his first game back, Morales said, “I got the lead and knew I had to make my pitches. I felt great today.”

Morales made his season debut count, going five solid innings, and didn't allow a run after the first.

Morales made his season debut count, going five solid innings, and didn’t allow a run after the first.

In the sixth, the Sox tacked on another run when Jonny Gomes pinch-hit for Morales and slugged his third home run of the year off Phillies reliever Jeremy Horst.  The shot could have been a two-run drive, had it not been for Jose Iglesias trying to stretch a bloop hit into right field into a double – Iglesias was out easily at second on the throw in from Delmon Young. After the homer, which may have been admired slightly by Gomes, Horst plucked Ellsbury in the back, and both benches were immediately warned by home plate umpire Bill Miller.  Ells got even the way he does, swiping second and third base with ease to up his total to four on the evening, and taking over the AL lead with 20. Yet again, he was stranded in scoring position as Pedroia lined out to end the inning with Boston up 5-2.

David Ortiz provided another run in the seventh with a solo home run of his own to make it 6-2, putting the game out of reach for Philadelphia. Craig Breslow, Clayton Mortensen and Junichi Tazawa provided three innings of one-hit ball in relief of Morales to halt any chance the Phillies thought they had in a rally.

Ellsbury, now tied for the club record with four steals in a game (Ellsbury, August 9, 2010 vs NY Yankees, and Jerry Remy June 14, 1980 vs Angels), singled again in the eighth, his third hit of the game to go along with a walk and hit-by-pitch.  He was clearly in the head of Phillies reliever Michael Stutes, who made several throws over to first before finally delivering a ball to Daniel Nava as Ellsbury predictably took off for second, breaking the club record as Kratz’s throw sailed into centerfield, allowing Ellsbury to advance to third. The Sox failed to score a run in the inning, but it was still a great moment for Ellsbury, who is shooting up the list of most stolen bases in a Red Sox uniform.

“Single-handedly, he changed the game,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “When you have that kind of base-stealing threat, it’s a huge asset.”

Boston grabbed three more in the ninth inning to pad and already large lead.  The Red Sox collected four hits in the inning off of Chad Durbin, scoring runs on an RBI ground out by Drew, and back-to-back doubles by Saltalamacchia and Iglesias.  Salty’s double almost cleared the yard, as it struck the top of the right field fence as Salty was in his home run trot, but the umpire quickly called the ball in-play as the ball bounced back onto the field. Ellsbury came up with a chance to get on base again, but grounded to second to end the inning.

Andrew Bailey came on for the ninth despite the game well in hand.  Bailey hadn’t worked since Sunday against the Cleveland Indians, but he made quick work of Philadelphia striking out two batters around a Frandsen double.  The Red Sox picked up a game on the Yankees as the Yanks were swept by the cross-town rival Mets, and Boston heads into the weekend with a big series in New York to try and pick up ground. Jon Lester will go for his seventh win in New York Friday night against Yankees ace CC Sabathia.

Inside the Game

– While Ellsbury had a fantastic night, 3-4 1BB 1HBP, and 5 stolen bases, he didn’t score a run in any of the instances he stole a base, coming around to score in the first without the aid of a swipe.

-Jose Iglesias went 2-5, and now has six multi-hit games in just 13 games played this season

-Jackie Bradley JR. collected a hit in his only at-bat, and came around to score.  It was Bradley’s first hit since April 5th at Toronto, breaking an 0-18 stretch

-Franklin Morales got his first win at the Major League level since last August 5th.

Jay Coorey – Senior MLB Contributor – Title Town Sports

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