The most consistent pitcher of the season for the Red Sox didn't disappoint last night. Jon Lester went 7 1/3 giving up 3 runs while striking out 6. The game was slightly more interesting than it needed to be (thanks to Mike Timlin), but the story of the night, and perhaps the season continues to be Kevin Youkilis. Now faced with a lineup without both that guy from Washington Heights and Mike Lowell, Youkilis has taken his game to another level. A level most of us didn't think was attainable for him. Going 3-4 last night with 2 rbi and 3 runs scored helped the Red Sox (winners 8-4) keep pace with the Rays who won 3-2 in late night action. The Sox will certainly need this type of production to continue from both Youkilis and Jason Bay while Lowell's injuries heal.
Games like last night's remind us that Kevin Youkilis is not in the normal "second half slump" we expect to see. In fact, I think it's time to get some serious print going for him as an MVP candidate. In seven games batting fourth since Ramirez left, Youkilis is 10-for-25 with two home runs, five doubles and eight rbi. Youk's 22 homers are six more than the career high he set last year, his 83 RBIs match his best total, and he's only two points behind the AL batting leader (someone named Damon). Youk deserves some MVP votes if he keeps this up, pass it on.