Ellsbury, who is second in the American League with 85 runs scored, didn't go home when Adrian Gonzalez hit a chopper between first and second that Mike Carp fielded with a sliding stop, then threw to Felix Hernandez as he ran to the bag with his back to third.
When Hernandez turned back around, he was surprised to see the Red Sox leadoff man still at third. And Ellsbury wound up not scoring when he was thrown out at the plate by Ichiro Suzuki on the next play, a huge break in what turned out to be a one-run game.
"Actually, yeah, I was surprised," Hernandez said. "I was like, 'Wow, he's still on third.' That was good. We did the little things and won the ballgame. That was the biggest thing."
Mariners skipper Eric Wedge also expressed surprise, though he understood why Ellsbury played it safe in that situation.
"Nobody was out, so I'm sure they were going to make sure the ball got through there," Wedge said. "But obviously that worked for us."
"That's a scenario when we're down five and you want to be sure," he said. "Could I have scored? You know, in that situation -- runner on third, no outs -- even if they get the out at first, you still have two more opportunities to drive in that run. You either want to see it through or be 100 percent sure that you can get there.
"It was a chopper. I broke hard, but once I saw him coming in, he either has a play at the plate for me or, which he did, he went to first. We elected to stay at third and have helpfully two more shots at it."