Kevin Youkilis provided the margin of victory for the second straight game as the White Sox swept the Rangers.
For the second straight game, Youkilis accounted for the game-winning hit as Chicago swept the Texas Rangers. In Thursday's 2-1 win at U.S. Cellular Field, it came in the form of an opposite-field homer that led off the White Sox sixth.
The former Boston All-Star collected six RBI in the three-game sweep of the Rangers, along with his first two home runs in a White Sox uniform. Since coming over to Chicago for Zach Stewart and Brent Lillibridge, Youkilis has hit .308, driving in 10 runs and scoring seven more in just ten games.
By way of comparison, the player he replaced at third, Orlando Hudson, has knocked in 11 runs in 30 games. Brent Morel, who went down with a bad back in May, had just five RBIs in 35 games.
The White Sox have won seven of the 10 games in which Youkilis has played.
Chicago, who was waning in the standings, suddenly has picked up a second wind. They rebounded the last week of June after dropping five straight series.
After losing two of three to the Cubs, the White Sox found themselves behind Cleveland. However, Chicago has gone 9-4 since. The White Sox have reclaimed the top spot in the AL Central, leading Cleveland by two games heading into a weekend series with the Blue Jays.
Youkilis has won over the clubhouse as well as the fans on the South Side. Robin Ventura told MLB.com's Scott Merkin as much before the White Sox took the field Thursday. What is it exactly is it about Youkilis that Ventura digs?
Just the intensity. He has an energy he bring -- the competitiveness he has. It's infectious, and it's a good thing for our guys to see in a guy who has been a winner.
You have guys like Paul [Konerko] who have done it and lead by example, and he does the same thing. He doesn't stand around and tell everybody about it.
Youkilis may not keep up the torrid pace he is setting with his new team. However, it looks like the change has done him a world of good. As Youkilis himself told Merkin:
Like I've said, it's a lot of fun playing baseball again. It's a good feeling to have, and I'm just enjoying it. There are going to be some ruts, and hopefully there are small ruts and a lot of positives.
Lately, those positives have contributed to several White Sox wins and if Youkilis continues at this rate, he'll be the driving force on what could wind up being a wild ride in Chicago this summer.