Kevin Youkilis got the ovation he deserved. The Fenway Fans greeted the White Sox third baseman with cheers and familiar calls of “Yooooouk!” as Youkilis took off his helmet and waved it in appreciation. He then knocked a single up the middle for the game’s first hit. Dylan Axelrod pitched a superb game, allowing 1 run in 6.2 innings while striking out 8 and walking none. Unfortunately the rookie bullpen again faltered, and Youk’s 3 for 4 return to Boston was not enough for the White Sox to come out with a win.
White Sox (49-40): 1
Red Sox (46-44): 5
The White Sox lone run came after a curious play involving an Adam Dunn shift and heads up baserunning by Kevin Youkilis. Dunn hit a slow grounder to the right side of the infield, too slow for a play to be made on Youkilis at second and the out had to be made at first. Youk noticed what the Boston defenders did not: there was nobody covering third. He took off on a foot race with Will Middlebrooks to get to the bag and the Adrian Gonzalez throw sailed into left field, allowing Youkilis to score.
They Red Sox half of the 8th inning began with Leyson Septimo issuing walks to Carl Crawford and David Ortiz, making way for Adrian Gonzalez to pick up his 4th RBI of the game by way of a 3-run HR flipped over the monster.
The White Sox offense didn’t get much done, the only run coming from an error, but Aaron Cook deserves some credit as he worked his sinker against a strong offense inducing ground balls all night long. 15 of 21 Aaron Cook earned outs came via ground ball.
Plus: Dylan Axelrod’s performance was not expected and hopefully manages to not get buried in the loss. White Sox fans were hard on Dylan after his start going into the All-Star game against the Blue Jays, quickly forgetting his Yankee Stadium performance. If he can carry some of the confidence from this one, it will go a long way towards keeping a functional starting rotation through all the injuries.
Minus: It would be great to have seen some more offense go up on the board but the rookie bullpen, tonight represented by Leyson Septimo coughed this one up. Issuing free passes is an act that moves you ever closer to issuing the opposition a win. Dylan Axelrod showed the flip side of this by not walking anybody. Unfortunately for Septimo he got beat by Adrian Gonzalez and he was unable to escape from the jam he built, but from the moment he entered the game it’s doubtful that too many Sox fans were confident in him getting through his time out there unscathed. What the White Sox need is a bullpen presence that doesn’t cause instant anxiety.
Player of the Game
Dylan Axelrod – .344 win probability added