Over the course of their three-game winning streak against Cleveland, the Red Sox scored 15 of their 21 runs in the sixth inning or later, including four in the final frame in a walk-off win on Sunday. The Boston bats didn’t take nearly as long to heat up Monday night.
The Sox pounded Philadelphia starter Tyler Cloyd for three runs in the first inning and three more in the third, totaling 15 hits in an 9-3 victory that was not as close as the score indicated.
At the head of the offensive charge was leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury, the walk-off hero from Sunday afternoon, who went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and a run scored. The ink has barely dried on columns demanding that manager John Farrell pull Ellsbury out of the leadoff spot, from which the center fielder had struggled to get on base for the better part of a month. But Ellsbury seems to have finally returned to form, and the Red Sox is already showing improvement as a result.
Over his last six games, Ellsbury has gone 9-for-24 (.375) with three doubles, four walks, five RBIs and three runs scored. The Sox are 5-1 over that span — the one loss coming in a rain-soaked affair against the Indians — and have scored six or more runs in all five wins. But his performance at the plate Monday night may have been outweighed by his play in center field, particularly when he ran down a deep fly ball with the bases loaded to keep Philadelphia off the board in the sixth inning.
“[I feel] good,” Ellsbury said after Monday’s game. “I just have to stick with the approach — I always talk about that — and the game plan. I just know it’s just a matter of time before things start falling and we get some results.”
“The ball that he runs down to end the sixth inning, that has a chance to make the game interesting, certainly,” Farrell said. “But we talked about it before the game. The boost of confidence he may have gotten with the walk-off hit [Sunday], in combination with the latter part of the road trip, he’s been getting on base at a higher rate. He played tonight like we’ve seen Jake, not just swinging the bat but defensively, he looked like a different guy tonight.”
Ellsbury may have been the catalyst, but the Red Sox saw solid production throughout their order. Nine of Boston’s ten batters notched at least one hit — even pinch runner Pedro Ciriaco singled and scored — and Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew each scored a pair of runs. It was Pedroia and Napoli — Boston’s No. 3 and 5 hitters, respectively — who provided the early cushion, as both sent Cloyd cutters into the right-field seats.
Cloyd, the International League Player of the Year with Triple-A Lehigh Valley last season, struggled mightily in his ninth career start, allowing six runs on nine hits and a walk in just 2 1/3 innings of work. Philadelphia’s bullpen did not fare much better, though, as Matt Adams walked in an additional run in the eighth and Phillies hurlers combined for just two 1-2-3 innings.
“I thought we had an outstanding approach, not only against Cloyd, but seemingly each guy that came to the mound tonight,” Farrell said, “including in that eighth inning, when [after] two quick outs we get a base hit by Ciriaco and then three straight walks. Guys are not giving at-bats away. I thought we used to opposite field very well, particularly in the early innings, and just a good offensive night overall for us.”
Just as it was too early to call for Ellsbury’s job last week, it’s also too early to proclaim that he is back to his All-Star form of 2011 after a few nice games. But if he can keep up this recent success, both at the plate and with the glove, it won’t just be his stats that benefit.