Hard to tell where the Chicago White Sox might be without Kevin Youkilis. He’s been what they expected and needed when the veteran third baseman was acquired from Boston.
And much more.
Youkilis, who was part of the fierce Yankees-Red Sox rivalry for years, hit a grand slam Tuesday night and the White Sox came back from an early deficit for the second straight game to beat New York 7-3.
”I think there is a rivalry in the past that I played on and that was blown out of proportion,” Youkilis said. ”I think here, it’s not really that crazy. The fans aren’t as crazy into it. They just treat it like every other game.”
But with both the Yankees and White Sox leading their divisions with about five weeks left, it’s not just another series. And Youkilis’ opposite-field grand slam off Ivan Nova was the difference Tuesday night.
”It just depends on the situation. I was trying to drive the ball to the outfield, get a runner in,” Youkilis said. ”That’s what I was trying to do and I was very fortunate it got over the fence.”
Paul Konerko also homered for the White Sox and Dewayne Wise had four hits against the Yankees, the team that designated him for assignment last month.
With the game tied 2-2, the White Sox loaded the bases in the fifth inning on Alexei Ramirez’s double, a walk and single by Wise. Youkilis’ high fly to right carried over the fence in right for his second grand slam at U.S. Cellular Field this season. He also cleared the bases in April for the Red Sox against the White Sox and Phil Humber.
”Youkilis put a good swing on it. I didn’t think that ball was going to go, but the ball carries well here,” Yankees catcher Russell Martin said. ”That was a big blow.”
Since joining the White Sox in June, Youkilis has hit 11 of his 15 homers. He’s given Chicago steady fielding at third, power at the plate and a No. 2 hitter who has good at-bats.
”That was a tough spot for us. Third base, even batting second. It’s changed that spot, particularly,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said.
”It extends your lineup. He’s a tough at-bat. He sees a lot of pitches. All the things you want when a guy goes up there. He’s seeing a lot of pitches and he’s a good hitter.”
Nova (11-7), who is 1-4 in his last eight starts, gave up seven hits and six runs in six innings.
”He’s struggled. There’s no doubt the second half, he’s struggled,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Nova. ”He has not located like he did the first half, and his off-speed has not been consistent. You just got to keep working. That’s all you can do.”
Chicago’s Francisco Liriano (5-10) also went six innings, surrendering Derek Jeter’s leadoff homer and two runs in the first while allowing six hits and three walks.
”It was touch and go in the beginning, but this team will make you use a lot of pitches,” Ventura said. ”He did battle through it and got sharper as the game went along. He just made pitches and at least got us to a point where we could go to the bullpen and guys came in and did a good job.”
Jeter hit the game’s first pitch for his 12th homer, giving him sole possession of 11th place on the career hits list (3,256) and moving him ahead of Eddie Murray. The Yankees then loaded the bases on a single by Nick Swisher and two walks, but ended up with just one more run on Curtis Granderson’s fielder’s choice grounder as Liriano avoided a big inning.
Chicago got one back in the second on Alex Rios’ triple and A.J. Pierzynski’s sacrifice fly and then tied it on Konerko’s 21st homer in the fourth.
Martin hit his 14th homer, a solo shot off Jesse Crain, in the seventh. Gordon Beckham had a two-out RBI single in the eighth to restore the four-run lead.
Yankees ace CC Sabathia threw 38 pitches in a bullpen session and said he expects to return to the rotation Friday against Cleveland. He’s been on the DL with an inflamed elbow. … OF Jordan Danks returned to the White Sox after a short stint in the minors as Chicago put Alejandro De Aza on the DL with sore ribs. Wise has been more than an adequate fill-in as both a center fielder and leadoff hitter with De Aza hurting.