After helping Boston win the World Series last season, Jacoby Ellsbury is about to experience the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry from a New York perspective.
The veteran outfielder faces his former team for the first time Thursday night in the opener of a four-game set at Yankee Stadium.
Ellsbury spent seven seasons in Boston, batting .297 and stealing 241 bases while a part of two World Series championships. He hit .298 and led the majors with 52 steals in 2013, then signed a seven-year, $153 million deal in December to join Boston stars like Babe Ruth, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon in donning the pinstripes.
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"It was seven great years," Ellsbury said. "The guys in the clubhouse, those are relationships that I’ll have for the rest of my life regardless of what uniform I’m in or the uniform they’re in."
In a Yankee uniform, Ellsbury went 0 for 7 in their opening series at Houston, then 12 for 22 in the next five games before going 0 for 4 in Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to Baltimore.
"It will be a little bit interesting for the core guys who have seen him in a Red Sox uniform their whole life," Boston outfielder Jonny Gomes told the team’s official website. "It will be a good series."
Ellsbury hit .333 in 10 games against the Yankees last season when Boston (4-5) averaged 6.3 runs and hit 24 homers while winning 13 of 19 meetings, including seven of 10 in the Bronx.
Looking to avoid a third straight loss overall, the Yankees (4-5) could be in for a difficult task against scheduled Boston starter Clay Buchholz (0-0, 12.46 ERA), who allowed one earned run and 10 hits over 18 innings while going 3-0 versus New York in 2013. That lone run came over 12 innings of his two starts at Yankee Stadium.
Buchholz, however, gave up six runs and 13 hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 7-6, 11-inning loss to Milwaukee on Saturday.
"I’ve been around for a little bit. You can’t dwell on your last start," the right-hander said. "It just happens sometimes."
Though teammate David Ortiz has only two home runs in his last 14 games against the Yankees, he’s batting .400 (22 for 55) with eight RBIs during that span.
He was 3 for 19 with no home runs in his previous five before clubbing a three-run homer over the Pesky Pole in the eighth inning Wednesday to help the Red Sox to a come-from-behind 4-2 win over Texas.
"You can’t count the big boy out. You can’t count this ballclub out," said Red Sox starter Jake Peavy.
Michael Pineda (0-1, 1.50) will try to keep the Red Sox in check in his Yankee Stadium debut after yielding a run and five hits while striking out five without a walk over six innings of a 4-0 loss at Toronto on Saturday in his first major-league appearance since Sept. 21, 2011 with Seattle.
The right-hander was acquired in a trade with the Mariners in January 2012, but hurt his shoulder that spring and underwent season-ending surgery in May. He was activated off the disabled list in July and finished the 2013 season with Triple-A Scranton.
"I’m very happy about everything, because everything is doing good, and that’s what I’m looking for," Pineda told the Yankees’ official website. "I’ve been working hard for the last two years to be here, and I’m happy with it."
He wasn’t very good while allowing seven runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 12-8 loss in his only appearance versus Boston in 2011.
Derek Jeter went 1 for 11 against the Red Sox during his injury-plagued 2013. He enters the opener of his final season series against Boston batting .313 (5 for 16) in his last four games after going 2 for 11 in his first four in 2014.