A day after not playing in what manager Joe Girardi called "the most important game of the year," Jacoby Ellsbury showed just how important, he, himself can be, by helping the Yankees to a 5-3 win over the first place Toronto Blue Jays.
It wasn't the first time Ellsbury was given the shaft before an important game. We all remember last year's Wild Card Game. While Sunday's game wasn't that important (depending on how you look at it), it was still extremely odd that Ellsbury wasn't in the lineup, what with rookie Aaron Judge struggling like there's no tomorrow (for him).
Girardi's official explanation for leaving Ellsbury out of Sunday's game was that his centerfielder was "banged up." However, according to Michael Kay, who talked about it during the game broadcast, Ellsbury told a beat writer, "Everybody's banged up." He also reminded the beat writer that he ended up in the game anyway, so just how banged up could he have been?
Not much, if you watched yesterday's game. Ellsbury went 3-4 with three RBI's, including a solo home run. Sounds pretty healthy to me.
It's possible that the decision not to play Ellsbury on Sunday (and, probably, in last year's WC Game) came from above, not from Girardi himself. After all, Girardi had nothing to do with the decision to place Aaron Hicks and his strained hamstring on the DL; he had no explanation for it during his postgame presser.
Ellsbury went a long way towards proving Girardi and the Yankee brain trust wrong yesterday. Hopefully he can still prove one other, very important, thing: that his seven-year, $153 million contract was not a total mistake.