BOS@NYY: Ellsbury's clutch steal aggravates injury

DENVER -- The Red Sox projected all along that speedy leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury would return before the end of the regular season, and they were right.

Ellsbury made his first start since Sept. 5 on Wednesday night, opening the game with a single to right. He went 1-for-2 with a walk and scored twice on a night the Red Sox clubbed the Rockies, 15-5.

"Yeah it was a nice game back," Ellsbury said. "I'm definitely excited about it. I felt pretty good out there."

Ellsbury is coming off a compression fracture in his right foot, which he sustained on Aug. 29 and tried to play on for about a week before taking three weeks off.

"It's a healing bone," Ellsbury said. "It doesn't heal itself in a week. Yeah, I mean I was just happy to get out there, play, run around. Kind of did everything I needed to do. Sprint down the line, run for a ball in the gap, just do everything I needed to do. Plan was to get me three at-bats. We got 'em early today, so it was good."

Ellsbury came out of the game in the bottom of the fourth. He hopes to play in the final three regular-season games in Baltimore, perhaps getting up to nine innings.

The Red Sox don't open the postseason until Oct. 4.

The Red Sox held their own in Ellsbury's absence, going 10-6. But they are a much more dangerous team with him.

"Well, he can impact a game, obviously, as soon as he gets on base," Farrell said. "It's a threat. Every pitch that's thrown, he's got the potential to steal. And what's been most impressive with the running game with him is his efficiency with 52 steals and I think only four caught."

Sox might keep on running through October

BAL@BOS: Ellsbury steals his 50th base of the season

DENVER -- Aside from the historic stolen base by Dave Roberts in 2004, the Red Sox haven't been known much for their basestealing in Octobers of years past.

But under aggressive manager John Farrell, that could change this year. The Sox lead MLB with an 86.4 stolen base percentage, stealing 121 times and getting caught 19 times.

Starting on Aug. 9, the Red Sox had been successful in 37 straight stolen-base attempts entering Wednesday action.

"As long as we don't get thrown out, it could be a big edge," Farrell said. "I think that's the one thing that shines through is that typically, you don't associate a running team with a high-scoring team and yet we've been able to do it.

"There were times in July, we kind of ran into some outs and we shut it down for a little while to be a little bit more smart about it and not give away outs on the basepaths. Since then, our guys have paid attention to some situations inside a game where we've been able to exploit.

"And it hasn't been just the top three guys. It's been [Will] Middlebrooks, it's been [Jarrod] Saltalamacchia, it's been guys you wouldn't necessarily think of as basestealers and yet we've been able to capitalize on some of those situations."

When you are that successful in stealing bases, a lot goes into it. Farrell credits the behind-the-scenes work of bench coach Torey Lovullo, first-base coach Arnie Beyler and third-base coach Brian Butterfield.

"Our guys pay attention," Farrell said. "They pay attention to the work that Torey, Butter and Arnie have done to give us maybe a little bit of an advantage or a situation we might be able to take advantage of. And they've been spot on with their timing and when we feel like we've got a chance to take a bag, to their credit, they've trusted it. And that's probably the most important thing. They've trusted the information we give them or our coaches have given them, and they've been successful."

Papi back at first base as Napoli rests foot

BAL@BOS: Napoli goes yard with a solo shot

DENVER -- The Red Sox hope they play two or three more games this season under National League rules because that would mean they made the World Series. But Wednesday marked their final Interleague game of the regular season.

And for the second night in a row, David Ortiz broke out his mitt and played first base, while Mike Napoli was not in the lineup. Napoli hasn't started in the four games since the Red Sox clinched the American League East title.

Napoli has been dealing with plantar fasciitis for much of the second half of the season.

After going on a tear through the first half of September, Napoli has hit a mini rut of late, going 1-for-13.

Manager John Farrell has found of late that Napoli has responded well to rest.

"He's available to pinch-hit here tonight. He'll likely be back at first base Friday, when we get to Baltimore," Farrell said. "We're hopeful that it has the same results the last break provided. He came back and swung the bat like he did for the first five or six weeks of the season. When he's in those stretches, we're a completely different offensive team. With Jacoby at the top and Mike in the middle of it, it creates a more powerful lineup, there's no doubt."