Sunday, May 23, 2010
Youk's going, Pedroia's coming
By Joe McDonald
PHILADELPHIA -- Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia are the cornerstones for the Boston Red Sox.
When they’re playing well, it means the team is, too. So it’s been a bit odd over the last few games to see the dynamic of the club’s No. 2 and No. 4 hitters play out. Pedroia went 0 for 4 on Sunday as Boston defeated the Phillies 8-3 at Citizens Bank Park. With his 0-fer, Pedroia is 4 for his last 39.
It’s not too often you see him in a slump like this. He believes he’s on the cusp of breaking out of it because he’s making solid contact.
“I feel a little weird up there,” he said. “We’ll get back going. I’ve hit some balls hard. [Saturday] I was a foot away from having three hits but had none. That stuff happens, you go through spurts like that and hopefully I’ll find a couple of holes out there tomorrow.”
Youkilis, however, has been on a tear. He went 2 for 4 with a solo home run, a triple and a walk on Sunday to extend his streak of reaching base safely to 22 consecutive games. During this streak he’s hitting .358 with five homers and 14 RBIs. It’s the longest on-base streak since his career-best 44 straight games from July 12 to Sept. 8 in 2008.
“He’s been terrific,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “He’s a good hitter who feels good about himself. He doesn’t give at-bats away. If he gets a pitch, he drives it. He’s been terrific.”
Youkilis went to town on Phillies starter Roy Halladay and continues his career dominance of the ace. Youkilis is hitting .375 (21-for-56) with two homers and eight RBIs lifetime against the veteran right-hander.
“He’s swinging the bat great,” said Pedroia. “He has long at-bats and everything he hits is on the barrel. He’s swing the bat great and he always does. He finds himself in a hitter’s count all the time because he’s such a patient hitter. Hopefully he can keep it up.”
Youkilis said he feels comfortable and focused in the batter’s box right now and his performance proves it.
“I feel good. I just try to work on things and try to better myself each day,” he said. “You can’t go on the rollercoaster ride. You have to try to keep it even keel and keep learning from your mistakes and try to add on to all the positives.”
That’s exactly what Pedroia is trying to do. He’s played 44 of 45 games this season and he’s said he’s not ready for a day off. If he needs one, Francona is willing to give it to him, but the manager is not worried about his No. 2 hitter.
“When he doesn’t get hits, he probably plays better defense,” admitted Francona. “If there comes a point where he needs a rest, we’ll certainly give it to him. That’s just the type of player he is. Even when he’s not getting hits, we feel real comfortable playing him because you know you’re going to get every once of energy. Just as cold as he gets, he’ll get just as hot.”
Youkilis believes that Pedroia has just been a little unlucky of late.
“He’s lined out a couple of times,” he said. “He plays every day, too. He’s out there grinding it out and sometimes in these funks that can lead to more stuff. For him, he’s going to be fine. He’s going to come out and hit. Maybe he needs a little blooper that falls in or a seeing-eye ground ball or a chopper that goes for a hit. You don’t need to worry about Pedey. He’s going to swing it and he’s going to get hits.”