Kevin Youkilis is hitting .319 with 18 RBIs in 18 games for the White Sox

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Kevin Youkilis’ return to Boston has so far consisted of four hits in two games, including a homer and two doubles, and the Red Sox castoff is now batting .319 with four homers, a .965 OPS, and 18 RBIs in 18 games since being traded to the White Sox.

It’s early, of course, but he’s basically performing like vintage Youkilis from 2008-2010, hitting for average and power while drawing walks and controlling the strike zone. And the White Sox are 12-6 with him in the lineup.

Meanwhile, rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks has hit .191 for Boston since the trade and the Red Sox have already designated for assignment Brent Lillibridge, who’s one of the two marginal players they received in dumping Youkilis.

Toss in David Ortiz potentially missing time with an Achilles’ tendon injury and the idea that Boston’s excessive third base/first base/designated hitter depth made trading Youkilis a must no matter how well he went on to hit and how little they got in return is looking a whole lot more difficult to justify.

Red Sox end Astros’ 10-game winning streak

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The Red Sox salvaged the final game of their three-game home series against the Astros, winning 4-3 on Sunday afternoon. In doing so, they ended the Astros’ 10-game winning streak.

Xander Bogaerts struck the decisive blow, knocking in a run with a double in the seventh inning to break a 3-3 tie. Michael Chavis also hit another homer — his eighth of the season — while Mookie Betts collected three hits and scored three runs to raise his OPS to .899.

The Astros last lost on May 7 against the Royals, the second game of a three-game series. The Astros won the final game of that set, then swept the Rangers in a four-game series, the Tigers in three, and won the first two games against the Red Sox. It’s their second 10-game winning streak of the season, as they won 10 striaght between April 5-16, sweeping the Athletics, Yankees, and Mariners before losing the second of two games against the A’s in Oakland.

At 31-16, the Astros are slightly behind the Twins — in progress as of this writing — for the best winning percentage in the majors. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have made up some ground after ending April 13-17. They’re now 24-22, good for third place in the AL East.