Tonight is the Boston Red Sox‘ biggest game of the 2013 season thus far.
Their one-time five-game lead in the AL East is being threatened for the first time in nearly three months. The red-hot Tampa Bay Rays are back for the second game of a four-game set and have a chance to surpass the Red Sox in the standings. It is easily the biggest game of the season.
So you can imagine the funny faces that Red Sox fans everywhere made when it was announced that their All-Star leadoff hitter will not be playing in this game because manager John Farrell is giving him the day off.
Am I missing something here? Jacoby Ellsbury is one of the hottest hitters in baseball. He’s hitting .344 in July, including seven multi-hit games. Three of his four home runs have come this month, and he continues to score runs and steal bases at an astounding clip.
And he’s sitting down for the biggest game of the year?
I thought we were past this. I thought the fire had been lit under Ellsbury since his job was threatened by the emergence and potential of Jackie Bradley Jr. Apparently, I was wrong.
Ellsbury, mind you, just had four days off at the All-Star break. Two of the four games he’s played in since have been multi-hit performances. In last night’s 3-0 loss to the Rays, Ellsbury did go 0-4, but we’ve heard nothing that would suggest that this is due to some sort of injury.
The bottom line is that Ellsbury is a handsomely-paid employee of the Red Sox. Even if he is not 100 percent, the Red Sox need him in the starting lineup. Against a terrible pitcher like Roberto Hernandez, there’s no excuse not to have him in there.
MLB players don’t get bumps and bruises from regular contact, and most of the time they are standing around or spitting sunflower seeds in the dugout. What on earth could he possibly need a day off for now? Ellsbury should be throwing a fit right now and demanding that he be put in the lineup.
But he’s not, and that’s a huge part of the problem.