CHICAGO – Since joining the White Sox last month, clutch situations seem to constantly find third baseman Kevin Youkilis.
The big moments haven’t fazed Youkilis, however, and for the fifth time in six games he recorded the go-ahead RBI, this time a two-run homer in the Sox’s 2-0 win Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Sox (47-37) have won nine of their past 11 games, including five consecutive.
“Yeah, you know it’s hard to say you expect it, but you like having guys on base and you like [Youkilis] in tough situations because he just continues to find the right pitch and continues to battle,” manager Robin Ventura said.
Youkilis’ home run in the fifth inning off starter Ricky Romero (8-4) accounted for the only runs of the game as starter Gavin Floyd tossed 7 2/3 shutout innings in front of 25,399 fans. It marked his first win against Toronto in eight games (six starts).
“It’s good to get wins every time we’re out here, but in the fashion we’re doing it,” Youkilis said. “Close games, there’s only been one blowout. That’s the key to being on top, winning the close games.”
Whether it was working quicker on the mound – Floyd said he didn’t notice the quicker tempo – or attacking the strike zone he’s found a groove. Brett Lawrie singled to open the game, but Floyd (7-8) retired the next 11 batters until Edwin Encarnacion walked with two outs in the fourth.
“Honestly, coming out of the bullpen getting started, I didn't feel like I had the greatest stuff,” Floyd said. “Sometimes there's days you focus better and make the better pitches. As the game went on I felt better and better and kept going.”
In his last four starts Floyd is 3-1 with a 1.37 ERA, a complete reversal after posting a 1-4 record and 10.38 ERA in the previous six outings.
“We've been playing some really good baseball,” Floyd said. “Even when we have a couple of bad games we jump right back in it and focus on that day and win. It's fun. It's exciting and we have a full half left and try to make a big push here.”
Youkilis has been a vital part of the Sox’s recent success with the much needed production at third base. Already Youkilis has almost surpassed his totals in Boston, where he hit four homers and drove in 14 runs in 42 games this season. He’s riding a six-game hitting streak, and in his 12 games since the trade, Youkilis hit three home runs with 13 RBIs.
Youkilis, though, isn’t interested in talking about the past.
“This has nothing to do with the Red Sox,” Youkilis said. “I play for the White Sox, and I’m here to play for the White Sox.
“I’m just having fun. Just going out there and playing baseball and trying to do little things here and there.”