|Red Sox have no regrets about pitching to Kevin Youkilis||07.18.12 at 6:52 am ET|
The obvious question after Tuesday night’s game was whether the Red Sox regretted pitching to Kevin Youkilis and not putting him on first base in the fourth inning.
Despite the crushing result – a three-run homer to the Monster seats in left -the answer the Red Sox gave after the game was a resounding no.
With two outs and runners on second and third and first base open, Jon Lester fell behind Youkilis 3-0. Lester knew full well that Youkilis had never in his career swung 3-0 and wasn’t going to start now. So, Lester threw one down the middle for strike one. The lefty executed a good pitch at the knees for strike two.
Was it fool’s gold?
Perhaps. Because Lester and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia decided that instead of putting him on first base and facing Adam Dunn, they’d try their luck. They rolled snake eyes in the form of a 93 MPH fastball belt high and Youk didn’t miss, clobbering the offering and depositing it in the seats in left. A 3-2 game was suddenly 6-2 as the White Sox held on for a 7-5 win.
“We fell behind, simple as that. Went 3-0, so we had to get it over the plate,” Saltalamacchia said. “Threw a strike, 3-1, threw another fastball down for strike two. At that point, we had to go with his good stuff, even though Dunn is on deck, we had to go with Jonny’s strength and that was his fastball. [Youkilis] just put it up in the air and it got out.
“You try not to second-guess yourself. You try and be as prepared as possible before the game so when you get into situations like that you know what to do. We had a little meeting with [pitching coach Bob McClure] beforehand so we knew what we wanted to do. We just fell behind and got into a hitter’s count. We battled back and got it to 3-2, left a fastball over the middle he was able to do something with. No, I don’t second-guess because that’s Jonny’s best pitch, his fastball and at the end of the day, we’re going to live and die by it.”
Dunn this year is hitting .165 (18-for-105) against left-handed pitching. But still, the Red Sox didn’t feel it necessary to walk Youkilis.
“It looked like they had the right plan, make great pitches, if you walk him, you walk him,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. “He went 3-0 and made two great pitches and the sixth one wasn’t as good as he wanted.”
“Yeah, he’s just showing off, just rising to the occasion for us and being in big spots,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura quipped. “Yeah, I think there’s something when you get traded, there’s something to prove and that all goes into it with a lot of people that’s happened to. Coming back here, not that he says anything, but it’s nice for him to get in those situations and come through.
“Youk is a veteran and he’s been in that situation before. He knew what to expect, even when the count went to 3-0.”
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