Patience a virtue to calmer Youkilis
First baseman comes up clutch with three extra-base hits
BOSTON -- The Yankees would take a lead and the Red Sox would peck away. That was how it kept going on Sunday night, and the most constant thing about that theme was Kevin Youkilis.
Boston's cleanup man produced a big hit all three times the Red Sox needed it. And each time, it was for extra bases. Just like that, Youkilis became the first Boston player since Carlton Fisk in 1973 to rope three extra-base hits in a season opener. This, on a night the Red Sox beat the Yankees, 9-7.
"He swung the bat so well tonight," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "At least we chipped away early so it gave us a chance, and when we do put up a three-spot, it means something."
It started with the Red Sox in a 2-0 hole on back-to-back homers by Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson in the second. But it was Youkilis who started Boston's half of the second with a double off the Green Monster in left-center. It was the only hit the Sox had against CC Sabathia in the first four innings, and Youkilis wound up scoring on a sacrifice fly by Adrian Beltre.
With the Sox down, 5-2, in the bottom of the sixth, Youkilis brought life back to Fenway by smashing a line drive over the head of Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher for a two-run triple.
"I got the count to 3-0 and I had the green light to swing 3-0, but I just wanted to make sure to see [Sabathia] throw another pitch," Youkilis said. "I was telling myself to lay off some stuff inside, because my last at-bat, he threw me a pretty good pitch -- a cutter in. He threw a pitch out over the plate and I just tried to drive it the other way. I was just fortunate to get it by Swisher."
Youk da man!
The Red Sox tied it later that inning, then fell behind by two runs in the top of the seventh.
But they knotted it back up again on Dustin Pedroia's two-run rocket to left in the seventh. And Youkilis had one more big hit up his sleeve later in that inning, a two-out double that put him in position to move to third on a wild pitch and score on a passed ball for the go-ahead run.
"I felt good," Youkilis said. "I just tried to capitalize on pitches. I was very fortunate I wasn't behind in the count. That always helps. I just tried to calm myself down. I've been trying to do that a lot more. I'm still trying to learn a lot more from hitting. One thing I keep trying to work on is not being satisfied with any at-bats and trying to learn my swing and my approach and trying to calm myself down at the plate."
The simple fact was that the Yankees had no answers for Youkilis, and it likely cost them the game.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.