As ALCS moves to Fenway, Youkilis improving vs. Rays starters

Updated: October 12, 2008

J. Meric/Getty Images

Kevin Youkilis hit .326 with a 1.016 OPS at Fenway Park in 2008.

AN OFFENSIVE YOUK-TURN

ALCS GAME 3

Rays at Red Sox
4:37 p.m. ET, ESPN Radio
ALCS page
Kevin Youkilis has been Boston's offensive star through the first two games of the ALCS, but in Games 3 and 4, he'll be facing pitchers against whom he's struggled significantly in his career. But that's nothing new for Youkilis, who entered the ALCS with awful offensive numbers against all four Rays starters. Through two games, however, he's 6-for-10 with a home run.

With David Ortiz not hitting yet, the Red Sox need continued strong offensive production from Youkilis, the kind he typically gives them at Fenway Park. Youkilis had 71 RBIs in 74 regular-season games at home this season.

Kevin Youkilis vs. Rays starters
Regular Season Postseason
James Shields .000 BA, 17 AB 2-3, 2B
Scott Kazmir .200 BA, 35 AB 2-3, HR
Matt Garza .083 BA, 12 AB Starts Game 3
Andy Sonnanstine .083 BA, 12 AB Starts Game 4
Note: .118 BA career in 76 regular-season AB vs. Rays starters

NLCS GAME 4

Phillies at Dodgers
8:22 p.m. ET, ESPN Radio
NLCS page
The Dodgers hope that Derek Lowe will find his comfort zone pitching in Game 4 of the NLCS on Monday. Lowe looked solid for much of his Game 1 start, but then fell apart and a Phillies barrage handed him a tough loss.

Lowe has been clutch at Dodger Stadium in 2008, and his numbers there are significantly better than they had been in his previous seasons in Los Angeles. He'll need to be clutch again to get the Dodgers back in the series.

Derek Lowe: Past nine home starts
W-L ERA IP K-BB HR Allowed
5-2 1.27 63 2/3 46-12 1 (July 9, Jeff Francoeur)
Note: 9-5, 2.30 ERA at home in 2008

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: Oct. 11 | Oct. 10 | Oct. 9 | Oct. 8 | Oct. 7 | Oct. 6 | Oct. 5

TAMPA BAY'S TURNING POINT

Back in June, Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett used his knee to block the second base bag when Coco Crisp was trying to steal. Later in that game, Crisp slid in very hard at second to show he wasn't happy about that, but it was Aki Iwamura covering this time. He could have ended the year -- or worse -- for Iwamura. In fact, Rays manager Joe Maddon even barked at Crisp about it when he turned to the Red Sox dugout while making a pitching change later in the same inning.

The next morning one of the Rays coaches asked if I was working the game that night. He said, "We're going to get [Crisp]." And I said, "No, you're not. You guys haven't won a game here at Fenway yet this year. You have your best chance with Shields, your best pitcher on the mound. Everybody is going to be looking for it. You hit him and you know what's going to happen. Someone's going to get ejected, possibly suspended." He said, "We don't care. We're going to get him. We are not going to let him get away with that."

I thought I was right. A lot of the years that I played I was kind of the guy who decided when and where and who as far as retaliating for something like that. I would never have taken a chance on losing a game. That is what spring training is for. You can hit whoever you want in spring training. Who cares? The one thing that Don Drysdale told me is that when you hit somebody, you make sure they don't touch home. Because if they score a run that just defeats the purpose. They won, you didn't.

But as I look back on it now, that day was really a turning point for the Rays. They lost that game and Shields ended up getting suspended, but that was when Tampa Bay made a statement. It was as if they were saying, "You guys have pushed us around for 10 years and you're not doing it any more."

They let it be known teams like the Red Sox and Yankees weren't getting away with that anymore. They got swept in that series and everybody kept saying, "OK, it was fun while it lasted, but the Rays are done now and they'll fall back in the standings any day now."

They may not have left that series with any wins, but they left with their pride. I think it was extremely important to those young guys, especially Iwamura. He's been their spark all season. And if Crisp's slide knocked Iwamura out for the season, I doubt they would have made the playoffs at all.


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BBTN ON THE AIR: MONDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
1 a.m. ET
ESPN2
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Steve Phillips,
Buck Showalter, Fernando Vina

BBTN MINUTE: ALCS GAME 3 PREVIEW

STAT OF THE DAY

Inside Edge The Rays and Red Sox have both shown an uncanny ability to shut opponents down late in the game this season. The Rays ranked first in the majors with a .224 batting average against in the regular season after the fifth inning and the Red Sox were sixth in the league with a .246 BAA. In October, the two clubs have put their late-inning pitching strength on display at nearly identical levels:

Rays, Red Sox pitchers after fifth inning
(2008 postseason)
Pitcher Team PA BAVG SO TB Strike%
Rays 103 .211 25 27 64%
Red Sox 107 .214 23 24 62%

ROB NEYER: NLCS GAME 3 CHAT

The following are excerpts from Rob Neyer's chat Sunday night. Join Rob again Monday during Game 3 of the ALCS and Baseball America's Jim Callis during Game 4 of the NLCS:

Larry (Portland): Victorino needs to shut up... how many times is he going to point at his ribs and his head. Once gets the point across.. two times annoying... three times he'll need to get plunked in the ribs later.

Neyer: Yeah, that was weird. As if everyone in the world didn't get it the first time. Just make your point, then get back in there and take your cuts.

Matt (Dallas): This is why I love baseball! I think adding that heat to the series is just fine, it certainly didn't get out of hand.

Neyer: Sure. That was just good clean fun, boys being boys, etc. As long as nobody gets hurt it's OK w/ me.

Jarett (NY): Since Moyer only went 1 1/3 will the Phillies try to use their bullpen to set up matchups or are they going for innings?

Neyer: Condrey pitched an inning because his spot was due up next in the order. I expect we'll see guys pitch until it's their turn to hit. Unless they get even further behind, or Manuel runs out of pinch-hitters.

jamie (philly): not to be annoying, but can someone tell me what just happened with manny?

Neyer: Not much. He just took particular offense during the little benches-emptying incident after the top of the third. He looked hot, but that was it.

Ben (NY): by the way, who do you think is going to win the NL MVP?

Neyer: I think Manny Ramirez is going to win.

THIS DATE IN POSTSEASON HISTORY: OCT. 13

1960: Bill Mazeroski hit the first World Series-clinching home run in history with a solo shot off Ralph Terry in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 7 to give the Pirates a 10-9 victory over the Yankees and their first world championship in 35 years.

1993: Behind the pitching of Tommy Greene, the Phillies defeated the Braves 6-3 to clinch the National League pennant.

2001: Mike Mussina and Mariano Rivera combined to shut out Oakland 1-0 as the Yankees staved off elimination in the ALCS, but the game is best remembered for the defensive play of Derek Jeter, who backed up an errant relay throw and flipped to catcher Jorge Posada, who tagged out Jeremy Giambi and prevented the tying run from scoring.