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All signs pointed to Jacoby Ellsbury’s heroics in the ninth

05.26.13 at 7:22 pm ET
By

Jacoby Ellsbury

There were signs that things might be going Jacoby Ellsbury’s way in the ninth inning Sunday afternoon in what ultimately was the Red Sox’ 6-5 win over the Indians.

First off, the bases-loaded situation Ellsbury strolled into with two outs in the ninth against Cleveland closer Chris Perez was right down the outfielder’s alley. He had already gone 4-for-6 with seven RBIs with the bases full this season.

Then, after the count got to 2-and-1 against Perez, the Indians brought in side-winder Joe Smith to replace their suddenly injured closer (shoulder). Ellsbury had faced Smith three times, hitting a walk-off homer against the righty on Aug. 3, 2011.

“We felt like when Smith came in, that arm slot fit Jake’s swing pretty well, and we saw the reason for it,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell.

What followed was Ellsbury immediately tearing into a Smith 90 mph sinker, lining it to left-center field for the game-winner.

“Anytime you’ve faced a guy before, it helps,” said Ellsbury, who didn’t digest any further scouting report on Smith during the pitching change. “I’ve never been in that situation during the middle of an at-bat: 2-1 count, bases loaded, game on the line. His mindset I would think would have to be to attack the hitter. The last thing he wants to do is walk me to bring that tying run across. I’m just trying to be aggressive in the zone and look for a pitch I can drive. Fortunately, I put a good swing on it.”

It completed a ninth-inning comeback in which the Red Sox scored four times, highlighted by a stretch in which they loaded the bases (Jonny Gomes walk, Stephen Drew single, Jose Iglesias walk) with two outs and nobody on.

Also of note was that Ellsbury came into the at-bat hitting .400 when putting 2-1 pitches in play, having seen 50 of them this season. He had swung 23 times, while taking the pitch on 27 occasions.

“I’ve never really been in that situation, but I know him coming in, his mindset is to throw a strike and try to make it 2-2,” the outfielder said. “I figured, be aggressive if I got my pitch.

“They’re very different pitchers. You have a few less pitches to make an adjustment or work the count. It’s a different scenario than I’ve ever been a part of. I figured he’s trying to throw a strike, I’m trying to hit something hard.”

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