He did it for the Yankees and Masahiro Tanaka on Tuesday night.
The boos had barely subsided when Ellsbury tripled leading off the game, his first as an opponent at Fenway Park. Then in the bottom of the first he stole a hit from Boston leadoff hitter Grady Sizemore with a sliding catch in left-center field as his cap flew off.
“You want to go out there and put on a good performance,” said Ellsbury, who received a mixed reception. “It was nice to get a triple right off the bat, just allow us to score right from the get-go.”
That was a “big hit,” New York manager Joe Girardi said. “They had climbed a little bit closer to get it to 4-2. I thought he played extremely well.”
Tanaka (3-0) allowed two runs on seven hits in 7 1-3 innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. His 35 strikeouts in his first four major league starts set a team record and he’s walked just two batters in 29 1-3 innings. But this was his first game at Fenway.
“I understand it’s a stadium rich in tradition,” Tanaka said through a translator. “Going up on the mound, I did feel that.”
Jon Lester (2-3) struggled after four outstanding outings, allowing seven runs in 4 2-3 innings.
“They put some good swings on him,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “Then when they mishit some balls, they found some holes.”
There were more boos than cheers for Ellsbury from the crowd that contained a sizeable amount of Yankees fans when he stepped in as the first batter.
With an 0-2 count, he drove the ball about five feet from the top of the center field wall. It was ruled a triple after a spectator reached out and interfered with it. Ellsbury scored on a single by Derek Jeter, starting the Yankees toward their seventh win in nine games.
Jeter took second on a passed ball and took third when catcher A.J. Pierzynski threw into center field. Carlos Beltran singled in Jeter, making it 2-0 before an out was recorded.
After the bottom of the first, a video tribute of Ellsbury’s highlights was shown on the center field screen. He smiled and waved from the visiting dugout.