Kevin Youkilis currently owns the highest batting average on the Red Sox, as he sits at .311. Tonight, against the Detroit Tigers, he made perhaps his biggest contribution of the season. Rick Porcello hit Kevin Youkilis, seemingly as retaliation for Red Sox’ pitcher Junichi Tazawa beaning Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Youk was clearly furious that he was thrown at, and why wouldn’t he be? Previous to tonight’s game, Rick Porcello had hit only one batter in 110+ innings. This means that as of now, Rick has hit a total of two batters this season. Guess what? This season, Kevin Youkilis has been hit twice by Rick Porcello. 100% of Porcello’s hit by pitches have been absorbed by Youk.
Wouldn’t you be angry too?
Immediately after getting hit, Youkilis pointed at Porcello, charged the mound, and went for the tackle. Rick looked genuinely surprised that Kevin was charging him, but Youkilis was fired up and couldn’t be stopped. The two wrestled each other two the ground, and the benches cleared. Tempers were out of hand, as players piled atop Youk and Porcello.
Youkilis and Porcello were both ejected, and there are likely suspensions looming in the horizon.
So, why is this a good thing for the Sox?
Because it kicked them into the correct mindset, and sparked the team.
Don’t get me wrong. What Youkilis did was stupid and idiotic, but it put a fire in a team that really needed it, just like Varitek punching A-Rod in 2004.
Youkilis will probably end up being suspended by the league, but if he appeals his suspension (which he probably will), he can delay it and maybe serve it after the Yankees series when the Sox play the lowly White Sox. Thus, Boston will not be crippled by the loss of Youkilis.
Since the All-Star game, the Red Sox are 10-14, with only two wins coming against teams with a winning record. Those two wins were the past two nights against the Tigers. During this pathetic stretch, the Sox managed to find themselves shut out for over 31 consecutive innings.
The entire Sox offense has been miserable against good pitching since the break. Jason Bay’s statistics really sum up the teams’ struggles. Before the break, he had 20 home runs and a .260 batting average. He had been averaging one home run every 4.4 games.
Since the break, Jason has managed just two homers, which means he is averaging one home run every 12 games. His average has been .211. If anyone needed a wake up call, it was Jason Bay, and boy was he woken up. In the same inning after the brawl, Jason launched a three-run bomb over the monster seats. Adding to Bay’s success was Mike Lowell, who hit two home runs in the game.
The Red Sox finally managed to reward a good starting pitching performance with a win, after getting Beckett, Lester, and Buchholz no decisions despite sensational outings.
The Red Sox bullpen seems to be a problem as of late, but really, it’s just Daniel Bard and Manny Delcarmen who have been struggling. Okajima, Takashi Saito, and Ramon Ramirez have both either improved their ERA’s or kept it at the same level.
Jonathan Papelbon did give up a two run shot today, but this was coming off a four-out save yesterday, and we know Pap has the necessary closer mentality to shake it off.
Bard seems to be reacting well to his recent struggles, and is taking what seems to be ineffectiveness and using it to learn and improve himself.
Delcarmen has simply been plagued by a few bad outings which skyrocketed his ERA to 5.87 after the break. Plus, he has shown that he can deal with pressure and big game situations before.
Essentially, do not worry about the recent bullpen struggles. They were the stalwart of the team for most of the season and a few big name players have suddenly slipped up a bit, but will pull it back together. You know that they’ll be pumped up by the brawl and you know that they’re going to come out tomorrow throwing gas and striking out hitters.
The Red Sox offense has been sleeping since the break. They have not gotten up for the big games, getting swept by both the Rays and the Yankees. Finally, after the season’s outcome started to look extremely bleak, Kevin Youkilis ignited a fire that is the Red Sox offense. Once it starts to click, it is a dangerous machine. Just look what happened at the beginning of the year, and then add the bat of Victor Martinez.
Kevin Youkilis took what was a dangerous great white shark flopping around a boat, plunged it into its natural habitat, and injected it with dangerous toxins, making the shark more vicious and uncontrollable than ever before. He revived the Boston Red Sox.