BOSTON -- The Red Sox played in front of their 700th consecutive home sellout crowd at Fenway Park on Friday night against the Rangers, a milestone no other baseball franchise has come close to reaching.
On Sept. 8, 2008, the Sox broke a Major League record with their 456th straight sellout.
"I actually think it's really cool," said manager Terry Francona. "Maybe more cool than most people. I've been in places where there's been apathy, and there's nothing worse than that. You come here on a Sunday day game after a Saturday night game and the place is always full. I kid a lot about the hot dog race and all that stuff. We don't do that here.
"Baseball is good enough, and I really like that. I think that's one of the truly special things about being here, is I hope this streak goes on for a while. It's really cool."
The sellout streak started on May 15, 2003.
"Reaching 700 consecutive sell-outs is a lesson for us all to never underestimate what the passion of Red Sox Nation can achieve," said principal owner John Henry. "Our fans have demonstrated unwavering loyalty and support from the stands at Fenway Park every day of the regular season for more than eight years, and everyone in the organization is grateful for their steadfast dedication."
The Red Sox players and coaches recognized fans for their significant accomplishment during the fifth inning by coming out of the dugout and tipping their caps to the crowd.
"It is a number that at one time might have been considered unattainable, but our fans proved that 700 sell-outs was a possible milestone to reach. It is a testament to the dedication they have for the game, for the team and for the ballpark," said chairman Tom Werner. "As stewards of this franchise, we will continue to work hard to earn the support of our fan base, which is something we will never take for granted."
Each fan received a special 700th game commemorative baseball as they exited the ballpark after Boston's 1-0 loss. The team also gave fans commemorative baseballs when they reached the 500th consecutive sell-out mark on June 17, 2009, and the 600th consecutive sell-out mark on July 18, 2010.
"Red Sox Nation gives our players and coaches a distinct competitive advantage in home games by creating a sell-out atmosphere unmatched in any other ballpark," said president/CEO Larry Lucchino. "We are grateful for their knowledge, their passion and their love of the Red Sox and for the game of baseball."
Feeling healthy, Youk activated off disabled list
BOSTON -- The Red Sox got their cleanup hitter and third baseman back Friday night, as Kevin Youkilis returned from his stint on the 15-day disabled list that lasted exactly 15 days.
The two weeks off was just what Youkilis needed, not only for the back injury that sidelined him, but also to rest the many other parts of his body that were nagging through the rigors of a long season.
"You know what? Sometimes a forced break, because of one thing, helps the rest of your body," said manager Terry Francona. "He was so beat up. He was hitting balls off of both ankles, and the way he attacks first base when he runs over it. I'm sure he doesn't feel like it's the first game of the year, but I'm sure it will do him some good."
Youkilis, who entered the night hitting .266 with 17 homers and 78 RBIs, was looking forward to getting back in the mix.
"No one in this room is 100 percent healthy," Youkilis said. "It's September and we just go out and play the game. But I feel pretty good right now. I'm just ready to play ball."
While Dustin Pedroia thrived in the cleanup spot while Youkilis was out, Boston's lineup looked a lot deeper in the opener of a three-game series vs. the American League West-leading Rangers. Pedroia was restored to the No. 2 hole, and Youkilis batted fourth. Jed Lowrie hit sixth and played shortstop.
"The hope is that it pays off tonight," Francona said. "Over the course of a bigger sample size, having him right smack in the order is huge. Tonight, Jed can hit sixth off a lefty. That's a little bit of a luxury. Protect David [Ortiz], but not have him hitting fifth. It's good. One big hitter in the middle makes everybody better."
Youkilis is confident the injury is behind him.
"Yeah, I think it was needed to go on the DL. It wasn't something that just, 'Oh, we'll just put you on the DL.' I needed it," Youkilis said. "I probably would have done worse damage to myself if I kept playing. It was a good move on everyone's part to do it, so hopefully we'll have no problems the rest of the year."
McDonald gets nod over Jackson in right field
BOSTON -- With the left-handed Derek Holland on the mound for the Rangers on Friday night, Red Sox manager Terry Francona started Darnell McDonald in right field ahead of the newly acquired Conor Jackson.
The right-handed-hitting Jackson will compete with McDonald for at-bats against lefties.
McDonald has struggled this season, though his bat has picked up a little steam over the last two weeks, when he's gone for 6-for-20 with his fifth home run of the season, all of which came off left-handers.
Jackson, meanwhile, hasn't hit a homer off southpaws this year, though he his batting .254 with a .333 on-base percentage and 10 doubles in 122 at-bats.
"It's going to be a little bit interesting to figure that out," Francona said about how the two will split time. "That's my answer. I don't have a perfect answer right now. We certainly want to see Conor play, and it will probably cost Mac some at-bats, but we'll try to figure that out."
Jackson was eventually added to Friday's starting lineup in left field, as Carl Crawford was a late scratch due to illness.
Francona also said he'll try to rest Kevin Youkilis down the stretch, getting him some at-bats at designated hitter, which could lead to Jackson getting some time at third base.
Goodwin dispensing basestealing advice to Sox
BOSTON -- If the Red Sox are running the bases with any more efficiency during their three-game set with the Rangers, there might be 369 reasons why.
Former base-thief extraordinaire Tom Goodwin has been hanging around the Red Sox's clubhouse the last two days and took a seat in the dugout for Friday night's game, offering pieces of advice he garnered through a 14-year career in which he swiped 369 bags.
The 43-year-old downplayed the effect of his presence, but Carl Crawford has praised Goodwin's work in the past, and Jacoby Ellsbury was intently listening to the speed coach during a conversation in the clubhouse on Friday.
"Just like now, we'll discuss something when it comes up," said Goodwin, who spent time with Sox players during Spring Training. "If it's something that he likes to do, or thinking about doing or did, we'll talk about it. It's almost like two teammates just having a conversation."
Goodwin said he's been impressed that Ellsbury continues to be a strong threat on the basepaths while his power numbers have skyrocketed to a career high.
"His baserunning and basestealing is obviously off the charts," Goodwin said of Ellsbury, who has 36 steals this season but was caught stealing during the first inning Friday. "He's added the home run this year, so he's actually cut down his stolen-base attempts. That's the only thing I guess that you want. If you're going to have something to cut down your stolen-base attempts, you'd like it to be the home run.
"And he's still a threat on the bases, which is really the key. The key is just being a threat. Guys know that he can run and will run, and other teams know he will run, but it doesn't seem to matter."
Goodwin thinks much of the same with Crawford, who has stolen just 17 bases this season, on pace for the lowest total of his career since his rookie season, when he played just 63 games.
"Carl is the same way," Goodwin said. "He's a guy that can impact the game. I haven't been around, so I'm really not sure what it is [that's prevented him from stealing]. Obviously I'm sure he's not having the year he wants to have at the plate, but he can still impact the game."
Jackson makes debut in place of ill Crawford
BOSTON -- Conor Jackon's first start with the Red Sox wasn't supposed to come until Sunday, with Darnell McDonald earning right field duties against Rangers lefty Derek Holland on Friday night.
But Carl Crawford was a late scratch due to illness, allowing Jackson, who was acquired from the A's on Wednesday -- just in time to be eligible for the postseason roster -- to make his first appearance with the Sox in left field.
"It was incredible from the home side," Jackson said after the Sox's 10-0 loss. "That dugout -- it's quite a place to play. It has a reputation, and it definitely upheld it."
Jackson was 0-for-3 with a strikeout, though he was just one of nine who played victim in Holland's seven shutout innings.
Jackson began the night in left field before moving to first base when the game got out of hand. He had patrolled left field at Fenway before, but the Green Monster was still intimidating.
"This is not an easy outfield," he said. "Right and left, there are a lot of little quirks -- and left is tricky. It takes some games to get under your belt before you feel extremely comfortable out there."
Jackson said he didn't have time to ask Crawford for advice in left, as he was "out of commission."
"The old intestinal turmoil," said manager Terry Francona. "He was really sick before the game. It was like 10 minutes before the game. He had gotten sick, but he wanted to play. That was when breakfast came up. When lunch came up, it was time to call it a night."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Jason Mastrodonato is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.