Only winning streak matters to Youkilis
First baseman focuses on team after hitting streak ends at 23
BOSTON -- Just like that, Kevin Youkilis' career-high 23-game hitting streak was about to end, and everyone at Fenway Park knew it. It was bottom of the eighth inning and the Red Sox were in command of an eventual 11-6 win over the Yankees when Youkilis trotted to first after his third walk of the day.
The ever-astute Red Sox fans stood up and applauded Youkilis.
"It was great," said Youkilis. "It shows how much the fans are into the game and understand the game. They've been very supportive of us all year."
Red Sox manager Terry Francona so enjoyed watching the selflessness of his first baseman that he brought it up, unprompted, during his postgame address.
"What impressed me more than anything was seeing Youkilis mature right in front of our eyes," said Francona. "I mean, he never left the strike zone. I got a kick out of that more than almost anything today. He plays the game right. When you do what he's done in the framework of doing it in a team-oriented atmosphere and playing to win, that makes it even more impressive."
During his streak, Youkilis cranked out a .426 average (43-for-101), while adding 13 doubles, six homers, 21 RBIs, 21 runs and a .468 on-base percentage.
Even with the count 3-1 in his final at-bat, Youkilis resisted the urge to put himself above his team.
"You don't know me if you're asking me that question," said Youkilis. "I don't swing at balls. That's not a pitch I can hit on 3-1. I'm looking fastball and he threw a slider. I'm not going to chase a pitch on 3-1."
And he also wasn't about to bemoan the end of an individual streak.
"We just won a ballgame," Youkilis said. "Who [cares] about a streak. Streaks are streaks. They're gonna happen. You can't be mad about ending a hitting streak. I think the fact that we won a ballgame ... I think the biggest thing is the losing streak that just ended. That's the biggest thing. We were on a two-game losing streak and we haven't lost three all year, and that's exciting to keep that streak going of not losing three in a row."
And perhaps that's the type of mentality that explains why the Red Sox have the best record in Major League Baseball at 37-17.
"There's nothing more important than winning a ballgame for anyone in that clubhouse," starting pitcher Curt Schilling said.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.