Jacoby Ellsbury took responsibility for a blown pop up in the first inning Thursday night that proved paramount in the Yankees’ 3-2 home loss to the Astros.
The play happened on the second at-bat of the game, when Houston outfielder Josh Reddick skied a short fly ball to center field. Bombers shortstop Didi Gregorius tracked back into the grass while Ellsbury charged. But Ellsbury never called Gregorius off, and the ball dropped between the two Yankee defenders for a double.
Two batters later, Carlos Correa smashed a Michael Pineda fastball over the right-field fence to give the Astros a 2-0 lead they never relinquished.
“I should have just called it,” Ellsbury admitted after the game. “It’s a tough play. But I should have called even if I would’ve had to slide.”
Joe Girardi agreed with Ellsbury’s assessment in his postgame press conference. Gregorius stayed diplomatic.
“I always go out there until they call me off,” Gregorius said.
The first-inning blunder was just the start of an eventful night for Ellsbury. In the bottom of the fifth, the center field stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. Ellsbury swung at a 1-0 slider from Dallas Keuchel, fouling the pitch into the stands on the third-base side of the field. But his bat made contact with Brian McCann’s glove, resulting in catcher’s interference, an RBI and the Yankees’ first run of the game.
It was the 28th catcher’s interference Ellsbury has drawn in his career, the second-most all time. He’s one away from Pete Rose, who compiled more than 15,000 at-bats in his MLB career. Ellsbury has 5,083.
“I wish I could have drove a ball in the gap or something in that situation, score a few more runs. But we’ll take the one run across,” Ellsbury said. “It’s definitely not something I’m trying to do or anything like that. …That’d be an unbelievable talent to do something like that.”
Later, Ellsbury ended the Yankees night on the final play of the contest. With two outs and Aaron Hicks on first in the bottom of the ninth, Ellsbury singled on a hot-shot line drive down the left-field line. Hicks advanced to third, and Ellsbury swiped second in the next at-bat with Gary Sanchez at the plate.
Sanchez then ripped a single through a right side, bringing home Hicks. Yankees third-base coach Joe Espada waved Ellsbury home. But Astros left fielder Jake Marisnick – who entered the game in the top of the ninth – threw out Ellsbury at the plate with a perfect strike.
Girardi said Espada’s send was the right decision.
“I got a good jump off the bat,” Ellsbury said. “He made a good throw.”