Ellsbury first member of Red Sox's 30-30 club
Center fielder takes Burnett deep twice in Game 1 of twin bill
NEW YORK -- His season already elite -- and going strong in the midst of his team's September disintegration -- Jacoby Ellsbury established a Red Sox first on Sunday.
In the first game of a doubleheader with the Yankees, the center fielder provided Boston's only runs in a 6-2 loss with a pair of solo home runs. That brought his long ball total to 30, and made him the first player in Red Sox history to reach at least 30 homers and 30 steals in one campaign.
"I'm definitely very proud of reaching that mark," said Ellsbury, who is the 16th American Leaguer to reach 30-30. "It's definitely a special group of guys in that class."
The 30-30 mark has been reached 57 times in Major League history, and Ellsbury is the first AL player to do so since Texas' Ian Kinsler in 2009. Two players have done it in the National League this season: Los Angeles' Matt Kemp, and Milwaukee's Ryan Braun.
Both of Ellsbury's homers were hit to right field off Yankees starter A.J. Burnett. The first came in the top of the fourth inning, cutting New York's lead to 4-1, while the second came in the sixth and trimmed the deficit to 5-2.
The latter homer also gave Ellsbury 100 RBIs on the season. He is the first Red Sox hitter to reach 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in a season while serving as the team's leadoff man, according to Elias. Alfonso Soriano was the last to do it league-wide, with the Yankees in 2002.
The power, Ellsbury said, has not been a shock to him, even if it has been to everyone else.
"I know what I'm capable of doing. I know everybody has been surprised by the power numbers, but it's always been there," Ellsbury said. "It just hasn't translated to the game, but every year, I've consistently gotten better. This is kind of what I was looking for last year."
Ellsbury acknowledged he came into the season with individual goals in mind, but he didn't say whether he had reached them all yet: "Maybe at the end of the year, I'll share them for you, but for now I'll keep them to myself."
Ellsbury has 38 steals, putting him well within reach of a 30-40 season, which has happened 19 times in MLB history. He attempted a steal of second in the first inning of the early game, but was caught for the 15th time this season.
Only one player in history has hit at least 30 homers, driven in 100 runs, scored 100 runs, collected 200 hits, stolen 40 bases and hit for an average of .320 or better: Vlad Guerrero, with the Expos in 2002.
Elllsbury's average sat at .322 entering the nightcap, after going 3-for-4 in Game 1. He's already reached or eclipsed the other marks, aside from steals.
As Boston continues to stumble as a team, the 28-year-old Ellsbury has done his part. He entered the day with a .358 average, .404 on-base percentage and a .611 slugging percentage in September, and including the first game Sunday, he'd reached base in 58 of 62 games since July 18, and had hits in 33 of his last 36.
"Everybody, you try to put yourself in the position, and, in turn, help the team," Ellsbury said. "Everyone is trying to prepare, trying to do what they can to help the team win. That's all I've been doing."
"I know it's not the best time, but I should brag about him," said manager Terry Francona of Ellsbury. "That's a pretty amazing feat. This kid has turned into some kind of player. He's taken a lot of accountability. We used to talk about Johnny Damon being out there all the time. This kid has done some kind of job."
An All-Star for the first time this season, Ellsbury started the day with a Major League-best 342 total bases, and in the top 10 of several other American League offensive categories.