Given the great admiration Kevin Youkilis has for Roy Halladay, his two-out single in the ninth inning to beat him last night, 1-0, felt extra special and left Youkilis and the Red Sox with a feeling of accomplishment in the first game of a homestand after being swept by the Rays at Tropicana Field over the weekend.
"In my opinion, Halladay is going to be a Hall of Fame pitcher," said Youkilis. "He's so unique in today's game. He had three complete games in a row.
"It's fun facing him because you just know you're going to be against one of the great competitors in the game. So you battle and battle. Sometimes he gets you. Other times you get him, but he's always a challenge."
Youkilis had been hitless in his last 12 at-bats before he stroked a first-inning single against Halladay. Before that, his last hit was a fifth-inning home run against the Angels April 22. The Sox had not scored in 21 innings before Youkilis drove in David Ortiz with the winning run.
With two outs, Halladay walked Ortiz and Manny Ramírez stroked a single to center. Youkilis just wanted to get something he could drive into the outfield. After all, Halladay had induced 10 ground balls to David Eckstein at shortstop and there wasn't much heading into the outfield. Youkilis said he got a sinker he tried to hit up the middle, and because Halladay has "a lot of spin and good stuff, you try to keep your hands through the ball." He did that and the result was the winning hit.
Youkilis expected Ortiz to score from second even with Big Papi's sore right knee. The first baseman figured third-base coach DeMarlo Hale was going to wave Ortiz around because the outfield grass was wet. Vernon Wells ended up mishandling the ball and Ortiz was able to score easily.
"We needed to have a win like this in our first game back," Youkilis said. "It was a nice, quick game and we won it. We need as much down time as we can get, and this is the type of game that will allow us to do that."
Pedroia jams shoulderWhile making his scintillating play to grab Wells's ball and throw him out in the top of the ninth inning, Dustin Pedroia managed to do some other damage - to himself. Pedroia jammed his left shoulder, though he stayed in the game, batting in the bottom half. "He just wills himself to make plays," manager Terry Francona said. "I know you have to have talent, but the will that he has is unbelievable. It's nice to have him on your side." Pedroia said the shoulder came out of the socket a little bit, something he's been dealing with the past couple of years. The injury was another reason Francona didn't run for Ortiz, because of the possibility they would need to put Jed Lowrie in for Pedroia if the game continued . . . Francona said the team would know more about J.D. Drew's left quadriceps injury today. Drew felt tightness in the quad as he lunged for first base on a ground out in the second inning. He came out of the game before the top of the fourth, replaced by Brandon Moss. Francona said the team was very fortunate it had kept Moss rather than sending him back to Triple A with Mike Lowell coming off the disabled list. Drew will be re-evaluated today.
Lowell: Thumbs upThough Lowell was deemed recovered enough from strained ligaments in his left thumb to come off the DL yesterday, replacing Bryan Corey on the roster, he will continue to wear the molded plastic brace underneath his glove for the rest of the season.
"If it holds the joint from going where they don't want it to go, and it doesn't really bother me, I think I should wear it," Lowell said. "If I don't wear it one day and I test it and then I hurt it again, I feel like I'm an idiot for trying that. It doesn't really bother me, so I don't see why not."
Lowell was placed on the 15-day DL April 10, after injuring the thumb on a dive for a ground ball off the bat of Ivan Rodriguez in a game against the Tigers April 9. He spent the weekend on a rehab assignment with Pawtucket, playing in the field Saturday and starting as designated hitter Friday and Sunday.
After working out at Fenway on Monday's off day, Lowell was proclaimed ready, so he was in last night's lineup, batting sixth.
"I'm actually really excited," said Lowell, who went 0 for 3. "I think you miss playing every day, the energy here in the stadium. So I'm looking forward to it."
Ellsbury sitsDespite sporting the best batting average against Halladay on the Red Sox roster (granted, in a limited number of at-bats), Jacoby Ellsbury was not in last night's lineup. Instead, Coco Crisp (8 for 28 with one home run) played center field and hit in the leadoff spot. Ellsbury, who is 4 for 6 with two homers and three RBIs off Halladay, has been slowed by a sore groin. That was another reason it made sense for the team to keep outfielder (and first baseman) Moss instead of Corey. "Having the extra outfielder, again with [Ortiz's] knee banged up and our bullpen not banged up, [will be helpful]," Francona said. "I think [Ellsbury] fully thought that he would show up and be ready to play. Guys go through things for the first time at the major league level, I think maybe the word 'innocence' is maybe correct." Crisp went 0 for 4.
Long time comingThe 1-0 walkoff win was the Sox' first since July 18, 1980, when they beat Minnesota on a Dave Stapleton solo homer . . . The eight innings by Jon Lester matched his career high, set July 18, 2006, against Kansas City, in which he also allowed only one hit . . . The start of the game was delayed 15 minutes by rain. It was still the Sox' shortest game of the season, at 2 hours, 18 minutes.
Price of popularityFrancona echoed a sentiment first expressed by Josh Beckett Sunday about the amount and timing of the travel the Red Sox are forced to make. Beckett particulary objected to games in other cities following Sunday night ESPN games. "I know Beckett said something the other day," said Francona, "and I don't want to add on to that, but I do somewhat agree that when you have guys competing and then some nights they're on turf, some nights they're not, some nights they're sore, some nights they're not. Then you hustle to get on a plane, then you get in at 4 or 5 [a.m.], I think that doesn't help. And because of who we are, we do get stuck playing some of those games. Those teams aren't going to give us day-game getaway days because we're a big draw. We have to accept that. I don't know that it always helps."
In the waiting roomNick Hagadone, the Red Sox' No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, was supposed to meet with Dr. James Andrews, but the visit has been delayed. Hagadone is seeking a second opinion after he tore an ulnar collateral ligament, which normally would mean Tommy John surgery. An infection in his leg, however, has put the examination on hold, since Hagadone can't travel at the moment . . . Corey was designated for assignment for the second time this season. He also was designated April 11 to make room for Mike Timlin. Though Corey elected free agency, he re-signed and was assigned to Triple A. His contract was purchased Friday when the Sox sent Justin Masterson back to Double A.
Cora checks outAlex Cora, on the disabled list since April 16, was examined Monday and given a clean bill of health. Cora was expected to start a throwing progression, starting at 60 feet and then moving to 90 and 120. The plan is to have him take ground balls in the infield Friday . . . Ortiz got treatment on his ailing right knee Monday at Fenway . . . Bartolo Colon is on track to throw a side session today, then is still expected to pitch in a game May 5.
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com