The Boston Red Sox begin life without the excitable Kevin Youkilis this evening when they open a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park.
Youkilis was dealt to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday following the Red Sox's 9-4 win over the Atlanta Braves.
Youkilis became expendable thanks to the emergence of third baseman Will Middlebrooks. After sitting for three games, Youkilis started on Sunday and went 2-for-4. Following his RBI triple with two outs in the seventh, he was taken out of the game and shook hands with several players before stepping back out of the dugout and tipping his hat to the fans he played in front of since 2004.
"Someone was looking down at him because that was the perfect way to come out," said Boston manager Bobby Valentine.
Middlebrooks is 10-for-16 with three homers and 10 RBI in the first six games of this homestand and leads all AL rookies with nine homers and 34 RBI this season.
"The way Middlebrooks was playing, he needs to be in the lineup every day," general manager Ben Cherington said. "Bobby's done a good job of shuffling."
Boston has won nine of its last 11 games,
Getting the call for the Red Sox tonight will be lefty Felix Doubront, who has won four of his last five starts. Doubront beat the Miami Marlins on Wednesday, but was not impressive in the 15-5 win, as he allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. Still, he improved to 8-3 to go along with a 4.31 ERA.
"My teammates have scored a lot of runs to help me in those kinds of situations when I give up runs," Doubront said. "That helps me. We're a great team."
Doubront, who has gone six innings in nine of 12 starts since April 2, is 1-0 in two starts against the Jays this season and has pitched to a 3.18 ERA in those outings.
The Blue Jays will pin their hopes on righty Henderson Alvarez, who is 3-6 with a 4.30 ERA. Alvarez did not get a decision last Monday in Milwaukee, despite giving up six runs in only four innings of work in his team's 7-6 loss.
Alvarez lost to the Red Sox back on June 1 and is 0-1 in three starts against them with a 2.45 ERA.
Toronto was denied a series sweep against the Miami Marlins on Sunday, falling 9-0.
Colby Rasmus had a pair of hits for the Blue Jays, who had won six of their previous eight games. Jesse Chavez (0-1) was doomed by a couple bad innings, yielding six runs and seven hits in six frames.
Toronto has split its six games with the Red Sox this season.