Just a quick update before game time:
Earlier today, Kevin Youkilis and Rick Porcello were each suspended five games in light of their roles in last night's incident. (Edwin Jackson, too, was fined, but not suspended.)
After immediately filing an appeal, Youk and the Sox decided to withdraw that appeal and have Youkilis begin serving his five game suspension tonight. Francona stated, "We seem to be healthy right now. There's always the idea that you could get it reduced. There's also the idea that it could come at a worse time. So take our medicine, do the best we can, and move on."
Their reasoning is pretty understandable. As Francona pointed out, there's never a good time for your best player to be suspended, but the Sox are relatively healthy at the moment. There were, likely, a couple other factors at play.
First, the Sox have two more games at Fenway before going on the road, and they like the Mike Lowell option much better at Fenway than in any other park. You saw why last night when Lowell and that always-pull swing put two over the monster.
The second reason is related: Lowell is getting a bit grumpy. Last night he was quoted as saying, "I’m grateful that I’m at least swinging a good bat. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want a good bat in your lineup." When told later that his off-the-bench two-homer performance was the first for the club since 1967, Lowell responded, "Is that a sign that they can sit me more?" Although many in the Sox think these off-days are just what his body needs, Lowell clearly is not happy with the arrangement and is grumbling for the first time. It might not be a bad time to make sure he gets a few starts in a row.
So while two games against the AL Central leaders followed by three games in Texas against the wild card competition is not a good time to Youkilis, the Sox clearly think it would be worse to wait until the Yankees are back in town, the Sox are trying to climb back into contention with Texas or Tampa Bay, or when Jason Bay suddenly forgets how to hit again.
So they're rolling the dice tonight: no Youk, and no Victor Martinez. The Sox are without their 3-4. They must have a whole lotta confidence in their ace.