Jacoby Ellsbury’s Solid Effort Against White Sox Doesn’t Silence Leadoff Debate, But It Turns Volume Down a Bit

Jonny Gomes, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel NavaOne game doesn’t make a season, and, in most cases, one game doesn’t turn a season around. When you’re facing the pressure that Jacoby Ellsbury is facing, though, you take what you can get.

Ellsbury went 2-for-3 with two singles, two walks and a run scored in the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the White Sox on Wednesday. It was Ellsbury’s first multi-hit game since May 4, and the very encouraging performance couldn’t come at a better time for the 29-year-old, who is clinging to his job as Boston’s leadoff hitter.

John Farrell said before Wednesday’s game that Ellsbury will remain the Red Sox’ leadoff hitter for the time being, but he also didn’t rule out eventually making a lineup change if the outfielder continues to struggle. Ellsbury entered Wednesday’s game hitting .185 with a .267 on-base percentage in 19 May games, lowering his season average and on-base percentage to .242 and .307, respectively. Those aren’t numbers you want to see if you’re a manager, especially when they’re attached to your leadoff hitter, who also happens to be a former MVP runner-up.

Wednesday’s effort won’t silence the debate about whether Farrell should consider moving Ellsbury down in the order, but it will at least turn the volume down a few notches.

Ellsbury started his night off with a ground ball back to the mound that Hector Santiago knocked down with his bare hand before firing to first base for the out. That marked the last time Ellsbury was retired by White Sox pitching.

Ellsbury singled in the second inning, walked on four pitches in the fifth inning, singled on the first pitch he saw in the seventh inning and walked again in the ninth inning. In fact, Ellsbury saved the best for last, as his ninth-inning walk off Nate Jones was his best at-bat of the evening.

Jones fell behind Ellsbury 2-0 before battling back to even the count. Ellsbury laid off a 98-mph fastball to run the count full, though, and he then fouled off four straight pitches before earning a free pass on the 10th pitch of the at-bat. The Red Sox already had a 4-1 lead at the time, so the walk’s overall importance as it pertains to Boston’s win is minimal, but it was encouraging to see the struggling free-agent-to-be make a pitcher work and kick off a rally that resulted in two more insurance runs.

Ellsbury needs to string together similar at-bats and performances to stay atop the lineup. You’ve got to start somewhere, though, so maybe Wednesday can send Ellsbury down the right path.

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