Kevin Youkilis lifts new Sox over old Sox
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Sun-Times Media July 17, 2012 11:24PM
Kevin Youkilis hits a three-run home run off left-hander Jon Lester in the fourth inning. | Steven Senne~AP
Updated: August 19, 2012 6:38AM
BOSTON — Could Kevin Youkilis’ week be any better?
A night after reacquainting himself with an adoring Fenway Park crowd that applauded and “Youuuked” his every move, the White Sox third baseman reacquainted himself with Fenway’s Green Monster, launching a three-run home run Tuesday night against left-hander Jon Lester in a 7-5 victory.
Youkilis unloaded against Lester in the fourth inning with Dayan Viciedo and Gordon Beckham on second and third. It looked as though Lester was issuing a semi-intentional walk, running the count to 3-0 with left-handed-hitting Adam Dunn on deck, but he took it to 3-2 before Youkilis hit his fourth homer since the Red Sox traded him on June 24.
The home run was a “take that, Bobby V” moment captured by TV cameras that zoomed in on Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who more or less set the stage for getting Youkilis shipped out of Boston by saying Youkilis was not “as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past.”
On Monday, Youkilis was the center of all sorts of emotional attention in Red Sox Nation, receiving standing ovations and a video tribute and scoring the Sox’ only run on a heads-up play when he scored from first on a ground out. He also hit two doubles.
The only thing lacking for a perfect night, he said, was a Sox victory, which he got Tuesday thanks in part to right-hander Philip Humber’s strong return from the disabled list. Humber exited after six innings with a 7-2 lead.
On Tuesday, Youkilis received another standing ovation, though not with quite the same intensity, when he stepped up to bat in the first inning. Nevertheless, the love was still apparent.
So was Youkilis’ batting eye. He walked and scored the first run on Paul Konerko’s double down the right-field line. After grounding out to short in the second, he collected his 16th, 17th and 18th RBI in his 18th game with the White Sox to give Humber a 6-2 lead.
Humber (4-4) made his 13th start but his first since June 16, returning from the disabled list after a tender elbow. With John Danks on the DL and Gavin Floyd going there Wednesday with elbow tendinitis — but not for long, the Sox expect — Humber’s encouraging return served as a shot in the arm for a rotation that welcomes yet another rookie (left-hander Pedro Hernandez) for a spot start Wednesday night.
After giving up two runs on singles to Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez in the first, Humber settled into a good rhythm. He finished with five scoreless innings, allowing three hits in that span. He walked none and struck out three in a 104-pitch effort.
“It’s not fun being on the sidelines,’’ Humber said. “I’m excited to get back. There’s been a lot of hard work to get back.’’
One Red Sox hitter Humber didn’t have to worry about was slugger David Ortiz, who appeared to strain his right Achilles rounding the bases on Gonzalez’s home run on Monday night.
Humber’s last rehab assignment, at Class AA Birmingham on Thursday, was crisp. He gave up two hits and no walks in six innings.
“In a rehab situation, the main thing is to be healthy and build arm strength, but at the same time, it’s nice to have a good performance, especially the last one to leave yourself with a nice taste in your mouth,’’ Humber said. “Hopefully it’s something to build off of.’’
Leadoff man Alejandro De Aza had two RBI with a double and a single, and Alex Rios had an RBI single in the first.
The Red Sox scored three in the eighth against Matt Thornton, two on Kelly Shoppach’s pinch homer.