Game 7: Red Sox 12, Rays 2 (2-5)
Though word is still out, it would appear that a nasty second base collision may sideline center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury for an extended period of time.
Ellsbury is coming off a 2011 campaign that saw him place second in AL MVP voting, combining a career year at the plate, including 32 home runs, with stellar defense.
He had been off to a slow start this season, hitting .130/.259/.174 heading into today. Before the collision, he looked to have possibly reversed course, going 2 for 3 including a double.
In the fourth inning, in an attempt to break up a double play at second base, he slid hard into Tampa Bay shortstop Reid Brignac. Brignac fell onto Ellsbury. He immediately grabbed his right shoulder and spent time on the field before walking off on his own power, noticeably holding his right arm to his chest.
Despite the win, it would cast a shadow on the day, the severity of the injury unknown at the time of this post.
Starter Josh Beckett rebounded from maybe the worst start of his career to go 8 innings, allowing just 1 run on 5 hits and 1 walk.
If there was any reason to think that Beckett may not yet be out of the woods, it was his lack of strikeouts (1), or rather the lack of swinging strikes induced. He threw 94 pitches, but batters swung and missed only 7, or 7.4%. For a quick comparison, in 2011, that number was 11.2%. He also struggled to keep the ball on the ground at times, with a number of fly balls hit hard in the outfield. After his first start, it was a step forward. Until we see more though, it’s fair to wonder if smoke and mirrors (good luck) weren’t in play.
Most promising was the offense. The team scored 12 runs on 16 hits, including 4 doubles. Kevin Youkilis, who had just 2 hits on the season, had two in the game. Every starter with the exception of Cody Ross, recorded at least one hit in the game. Ellsbury’s injury replacement, Ryan Sweeney, had one as well. The Red Sox came into today’s game batting .235 on the season. By the end, they had raised the team batting average to .265.
The gold star goes to backup catcher Kelly Shoppach, who had the best day of all, going 3 for 4 with 2 doubles and a hit by pitch. That all three hits were recorded after lefty starter David Price left the game, against three different right handed pitchers, just made Shoppach’s performance all the more improbable. He is notoriously poor against RHP, batting just .201 against in his career.
And in his eighth major league season, he finally got his first stolen base.
Game graph courtesy of Fangraphs