NEW YORK -- Jacoby Ellsbury said that he should have called for the bloop double that plopped behind shortstop Didi Gregorius in the first inning on Thursday, and that was just one of the moments that the Yankees' center fielder pondered after an eventful 3-2 loss to the Astros at Yankee Stadium.
Josh Reddick's soft hit to center field set up Carlos Correa's two-run homer off Yankees starter Michael Pineda, and with the scouting reports and statistics indicating that Dallas Keuchel has recaptured his 2015 form, Ellsbury recognized that runs would most likely be at a premium.
"Looking back, I probably should have called it, even though I maybe would have had to slide," Ellsbury said. "It's a tough play."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi agreed, saying that he would have liked to see Ellsbury take charge on the play. Gregorius attempted to make the catch with his back to home plate, continuing to meander into the outfield as he listened for a teammate to shout over the crowd noise.
"I go as far as I can until I hear something and one of the outfielders calls me off," Gregorius said. "He didn't call me off, so I tried to make the play. It fell right between us."
Ellsbury would take center stage for another key situation in the fifth inning, stepping up with the bases loaded and one out.
Taking a hack at a breaking ball that clipped former teammate Brian McCann's glove, Ellsbury was awarded the 28th catcher's interference of his career, placing him just one behind Pete Rose (29) for the all-time lead.
"I wish I could have driven a ball in the gap or something in that situation, scored a few more runs," said Ellsbury, who was nevertheless credited with an RBI.
Ellsbury's half-hearted pursuit of the obscure all-time mark is made all the more incredible when considering that while Rose amassed 15,890 plate appearances in a 24-year career, Ellsbury has nearly eclipsed Rose's catcher's interference total with less than a third of that total (5,084).
"I knew I was close. Someone mentioned it in Spring Training," Ellsbury said. "It's definitely not something I'm trying to do or anything like that. That'd be an unbelievable talent, to be able to do something like that. I guess it's not really on me if it happens again. I don't know when it's going to happen."
The Yankees had lost just three of their first 15 home games this year, and Ellsbury's two-out single off Ken Giles in the ninth inning gave the Yankees a fair crack at another comeback victory.
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Gary Sanchez followed with a single to left field and Ellsbury got a good jump, waved home by third-base coach Joe Espada but nailed by a strong throw by Jake Marisnick.
"I was going on contact," Ellsbury said. "I saw they pulled the outfield in, which is the right play. He charges it well and threw a strike. Unfortunately we didn't push it across."