EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 27, 2009

A steal of epic proportions

By Bill Burt

BOSTON — Jacoby Ellsbury had better get used to it.

Everywhere he goes, probably for the rest of his life, Boston Red Sox fans will remind him of that chilly night on April 26, 2009 when he scored the third run of a 4-1 win over the New York Yankees.

While they will forget that score and which run it was, they will never forget how he did it — by stealing home.

With two outs in the fifth inning and Ellsbury on third base, the Red Sox speedster took off for home plate as Yankees starter Andy Pettitte nonchalantly went about his full windup.

Almost stumbling about 10 feet from home plate, Ellsbury dove head first and easily scored before catcher Jorge Posada realized what had happened.

"I wish I could tell you how smart I was," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "It was all Jacoby."

Francona basically said a manager would never tell a player to steal home. Rather, the player has to see the opportunity and just go.

Ellsbury is the first Red Sox player to steal home since Jose Offerman did it on Aug. 30, 1999. But that has an asterisk. It was on the back end of a double steal in the 5th inning against the Kansas City Royals.

The real comparison is to ex-Red Sox outfielder Billy Hatcher, who pulled off a "straight steal of home" on April 22, 1994.

Sox hang 10

The Red Sox tonight won their 10th straight game, the longest winning streak in the majors this season and the club's longest since a 12-gamer from June 16-29, 2006. It is the club's longest ever in April and the majors' longest winning streak during the month since Seattle won 10 in a row from April 8-17, 2002.

Home sweet home

The Red Sox were 3-6 and in last place in the AL East when they boarded a late afternoon flight from San Francisco to Boston.

Now, with a nine-game home stand in the books, they are 12-6 and just one game out of first place.

The Red Sox won all nine games of this home stand, which began April 17 and included games against Baltimore (3), Minnesota (3), and New York (3). It is Boston's first home-stand sweep of at least nine games since a nine-gamer from June 19-29, 2006 (Washington — 3, Philadelphia — 3, and Mets — 3).

Sox take over Fenway lead from Yanks

The Red Sox now hold a 447-446-4 all-time advantage over the Yankees at Fenway Park, including a 20-19 advantage at home since the start of the 2007 campaign.

Cano is Yanks MVP

Lost in the shuffle of some confusing play by the Yankees this weekend was the play of second baseman Robinson Cano.

Cano had two more hits last night, giving him six over the three games in 15 official at bats. Included in those numbers were two homers, a double and six RBI.

Cano is hitting .373 for the season thus far and leads the Yankees in every major hitting category — batting average, homers, RBI (15), runs (15), and on-base percentage (.415).

While Dustin Pedroia has received much of the lion's share of publicity the last two years, Cano might be every bit as good. He is a career .304 hitter and has had career highs of 19 HRs, 97 RBI and a .342 average.

Cano has hit safely in a team season-high 13 straight games, batting .350 (20-for-57) with 4 home runs and 12 RBI in that span.

'Masterson' means quality

Red Sox fill-in starter Justin Masterson has gone at least 5.0 innings while allowing four earned runs or less in each of his first 11 career major league starts. He is now 6-3 with a 3.31 ERA (24 ER/65.1 IP) in 11 career major league starts.

Notes and nuggets

Boston's bullpen allowed just one hit over 3.2 scoreless innings of relief and has surrendered just 5 runs in its last 41.0 frames beginning April 14, for a 1.10 ERA in that span. ... Sox reliever Michael Bowden tonight made the first relief appearance of his major league career, tossing 2.0 perfect frames. Hunter Jones recorded his first career strikeout against Melky Cabrera in the 6th inning. ... Mike Lowell has hit safely in each of his last 10 games, batting .429 (18-for-42) with 3 homers and 18 RBI in that time. It is his longest hitting streak since a 16-game run from August 18-September 3, 2007. ... Kevin Youkilis has been walked intentionally in each of his last three games, the longest such streak by a Red Sox hitter since Jason Varitek was given a free pass in three straight games from June 19-22, 2007. ... Andy Pettitte took his first loss since falling to the White Sox on September 16, 2008. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, tonight marked the 24th time in his career as a Yankee that Pettitte started in the final game of a series with the Yankees trying to avoid a sweep. He is now 17-2 in those contests. ... Derek Jeter's at bat in the top of the seventh inning was the 8,102nd of his career, tying Mickey Mantle for the most in Yankees history.