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The power of Jacoby Ellsbury

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  July 20, 2011 07:08 PM

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AP Photo/Nick Wass

BALTIMORE — Jacoby Ellsbury hit two more home runs today and now has 15 on the season. To put that in some perspective, among the Red Sox only David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez have more. Ellsbury also has more that A-Rod, Matt Holliday, Jayson Werth and Adam Dunn.

“He kind of put us on his shoulders today,” manager Terry Francona said after a 4-0 victory against Baltimore. “He’s had a way of doing that from time to time. He took some really good swings.”

So what is it, Jacoby?

“No reason,” he said. “Just staying balanced, keeping my weight back and driving the ball. It’s being ready to hit and keeping my hands back. It’s pretty simple. I haven’t really changed anything.”

Ellsbury didn’t hit a single home run last year, his season limited to 18 games because of fractured ribs. He has not gotten any stronger since, either.

“Not really,” he said. “I was just trying to come back from last year. I didn’t really have time to work on that aspect.”

Francona believes the home runs are a product of Ellsbury becoming a more disciplined hitter, not necessarily a stronger one.

“It’s knowing the strike zone and knowing the league. He’s probably turning into a better hitter,” the manager said. “Confident.”

Whatever it is, it's working.

A few notes for you . . .

Jon Lester threw 45 pitches over three simulated innings. John Lackey stood in as a hitter. "Tremendous," Francona said.

"Good," said Lester, a reserved kind of guy.

He's clear for Monday.

Andrew Miller's six walks were a career high but he didn't allow a run in 5.2 innings. He was actually pretty good for his final 3.2 innings and even hit 95. But trying to guess what he'll do next time is impossible.

The Sox are 5-1 when he starts. That's enough for now.

• Ellsbury has a 29-game hit streak against the Orioles dating back to 2009. It’s the longest streak against the Orioles since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954.

Daniel Bard set a franchise record with his 21st consecutive scoreless appearance. He also has not allowed a run in 22.2 innings going back to May 23. That’s the longest streak for a Red Sox pitcher since Bob Stanley threw 27 consecutive scoreless innings from July 27-Aug. 31, 1980.

"He's a machine," Francona said.

• Adrian Gonzalez was 4 for 5. Crisis over. "You people panic too much," Gonzo said, laughing. Not all people. Adrian. But blind, stupid panic is a Boston standard in some quarters.

• A report by Fox Sports listed the Red Sox as one of the “most aggressive suitors” for Mets right fielder Carlos Beltran. But several major league sources refuted that, saying that while the Sox have inquired about Beltran, they are not among those in hot pursuit. They would make a deal only if it made sense.

The Red Sox, for now, are evaluating to what degree they can rely on Josh Reddick in right field with Darnell McDonald available to play against lefthanders.

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