Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the Red Sox lineup last night for the first time in 16 days after dealing with a compression fracture in his right foot. It looked like he never missed a beat.
Ellsbury played the first four innings and went 1-2 with a walk and two runs scored as the Red Sox pounded the Rockies 15-5.
He led off the game with a single and came around to score later in the first inning on a two-run double by David Ortiz as the Sox quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead against Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin.
Jake Peavy started for the Red Sox in his final postseason tuneup and on Todd Helton Retirement Night at Coors Field, he promptly served up a solo home run to Helton in the second to cut the Sox lead to 3-1. Helton finished the night 2-3 with 3 RBI and a couple of nice defensive plays.
Peavy was not particularly sharp. He continued his recent pattern of being given an early lead and then allowing the opponent to slowly chip away at that lead. It is the reason that before tonight, he last recorded a win on August 31 with three no-decisions since then. Peavy worked the first six and allowed eight hits and five earned runs with four walks and five strikeouts.
After a Saltalamacchia RBI single in the top of the third put the Sox ahead 4-2, Peavy went out and immediately allowed the Rockies to tie the score at 4-4 on a Helton sacrifice fly and Nolan Arenado ground rule RBI double in the bottom of the inning.
But the Red Sox offense was immense on this night and kept bailing Peavy out and extending their lead.
Shane Victorino continued to terrorize pitchers from the right side of the plate as he blasted a three-run homer off Chacin in the fourth inning to put Boston back up 7-4.
The home run ended Chacin’s night as he was pinch hit for in the bottom of the fourth but the Red Sox continued to pour it on in the fifth against reliever Rob Scahill.
Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew led off with back-to-back singles and Middlebrooks then unloaded the first of two long home runs, a three-run homer to deep right to extend the Sox lead to 10-4.
Middlebrooks capped his huge game with a grand slam in the eighth inning to provide the final margin of victory. That makes it nine grand slams for the Sox this season, most in the majors and most for the franchise since 2005 when they hit 11.
With the Oakland A’s losing to the Angels 3-1 earlier in the day, the Red Sox reduced their magic number to clinch home field throughout the American League playoffs to two with the victory.
But the big thing last night was Ellsbury returning to action and appearing to ease right back into things. The Sox will need him to get the most out of their offense in the postseason. The 15 run explosion last night made that clear.
After an off day tomorrow the Sox head to Baltimore to open their final regular season series of the year with three games at Camden Yards against the Orioles.