One night after Youkilis was the focal point of a bench-clearing brawl, the Red Sox will have ace Josh Beckett(notes) on the mound Wednesday night as they seek their third consecutive victory over the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park.
Youkilis - the All-Star corner infielder and Boston’s leading hitter - will almost certainly garner a suspension for his actions in the second inning of Tuesday night’s game. After being hit in the back with the first pitch, Youkilis charged the mound and threw his batting helmet at Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello(notes). The helmet missed Porcello, but the two players wound up wrestling each other to the ground as the benches cleared.
Both Youkilis and Porcello were ejected.
“The only thing I have to say about that is I was not intentionally trying to hit Kevin Youkilis,” Porcello said. “It was unintentional.”
Lowell replaced Youkilis at third base and responded with his first two-homer game since 2007, leading the Red Sox (64-48) to a 7-5 victory - their second straight after dropping the final six contests of their nine-game road trip, the last four in New York. Boston remains 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees for the AL East lead.
Lowell spent nearly three weeks on the disabled list earlier this summer with a strain in his surgically-repaired right hip, and has been given frequent rest since he returned. When he has played, he’s been excellent, batting .368 with three homers and 16 RBIs in 17 games since his July 17 activation.
“He starts out there watching and pretty quickly he’s down there stretching and he ends up having a huge impact on the outcome of the game,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “That’s not easy to do.”
Beckett (13-4, 3.12 ERA) has been excellent all season, and may be pitching his best ball of the year right now. The right-hander has thrown 14 consecutive scoreless innings over his last two starts. He held the Yankees to four hits and two walks while striking out seven in seven innings Friday, but the Red Sox eventually lost 2-0 in 15 innings.
No opponent has solved Beckett at Fenway, where he is 7-0 with a 2.58 ERA this season and 5-0 with a 1.19 ERA in five outings since the start of June. He also earned a victory in Detroit on June 3, when he limited the Tigers to three unearned runs, two hits and two walks over 7 2-3 innings while striking out nine. He improved to 2-1 with a 2.61 ERA in three career starts against Detroit.
Armando Galarraga(notes) (6-10, 5.23) lost to Beckett in June, and will seek a better result Wednesday. The right-hander had lost three straight decisions over five starts, but ended that drought Friday, getting credit for a 10-8 home win over Minnesota after giving up four runs, eight hits and five walks in five innings.
Tuesday’s loss was the fifth in as many meetings with Boston this season for the Tigers (59-53), whose AL Central lead over Chicago dwindled to two games after the White Sox rallied to win in Seattle.
Curtis Granderson(notes) hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning Tuesday off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon(notes). Granderson has seven strikeouts in 11 career at-bats against Beckett, although he also has two hits including a triple in those matchups.