But on a rainy night in the Bronx when he began the game on the bench with the Yankees facing another lefty starter, Ellsbury showed what the Bombers paid him for in a 6-3 win over the Rays.
After replacing Aaron Hicks, who injured himself diving for a ball in the fourth inning in center, Ellsbury didn’t take long to make his presence felt — thanks to a straight steal of home in the bottom of the fifth that tied the game.
“I knew if I took off, I’d make it,” said Ellsbury, who shocked nearly everyone by going despite a 3-2 count and two outs.
Brett Gardner took the pitch and Ellsbury slid under the tag.
“It was a surprise, but it worked out for the best,” said Gardner, who took the pitch and didn’t have to risk an Ellsbury injury by swinging. “Thank goodness the ball wasn’t close to the zone.”
And the last time Ellsbury pulled off what is probably the most exciting play in baseball? 2009 against Andy Pettitte of the Yankees: