Kevin Youkilis still intends to play through a sports hernia which will require offseason surgery, but it’s clear the Red Sox won’t be able to rely on him down the stretch.
Youkilis was pulled from last night’s loss to the Rays after six innings and Red Sox manager Terry Francona told Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com that he will at least sit out Friday’s game.
“He’s sore and he’s not going to play tomorrow,” Francona said. “Actually talked to him before the game a little bit and had a good talk with him. We’ll watch him. He’s nowhere near pulling the plug on the season, or anything like that. But it’s pretty obvious he’s struggling out there.”
Youkilis is 1-for-9 since returning to the lineup earlier this week and is just 6-for-36 (.167) with zero homers and an 11/5 K/BB ratio this month. The 32-year-old is currently batting a career-low .258 on the season.
Jed Lowrie is also unavailable due to a nagging injury to his left shoulder, so Mike Aviles will likely make the start at third base tonight.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: