Stephen Drew played the hero not once, but twice Monday night, helping the Red Sox to snap their losing streak at three with a walkoff win over the Minnesota Twins.
Nearly five hours before Drew's deciding hit, however, the game began with an uncharacteristically shaky start for Clay Buchholz. While Red Sox fans have grown used to Buchholz simply dominating opposing batters with ease, he was all over the place Monday night, missing his spots by miles and leaving balls up in the zone to be hit. Joe Mauer and Josh Wilingham would both oblige him by hitting doubles out towards the Monster, with Justin Morneau dropping a hit into center to put the Twins up 2-0 early on.
Buchholz would end up walking the next two batters, his pitch count pushing 30 with just one out. And then, after a visit to the mound, he was back. Just like that. His control tightened, and with his off-speed offerings finding their spots, he struck out Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks to end the first. He didn't stop there, either, rolling right on through Pedro Florimon and Ben Dozier in a 1-2-3 second, and Justin Morneau and Chris Parmelee in a 1-2-3 third. Trevor Plouffe would strike to start the fourth, making it seven strikeouts for Buchholz, who almost seemed to just show up late to the game.
Unfortunately, first-inning Buchholz would make a brief return, allowing a pair of doubles to score a third Minnesota run. The offense would finally get going behind him, though, making up for the run with a solo shot from Shane Victorino down the right field line. Unfortunately, Buchholz would continue to struggle into the sixth, giving the run right back on a leadoff double, single, and sacrifice fly to make it 4-1.
While the Twins may have had their three-run lead back, simply seeing the run up on the board seemed to get the Red Sox bats working. If the floodgates didn't open, they at least cracked. The Sox would score a second run in the fifth on a double from Daniel Nava and single from Stephen Drew, and only a bad call on a play at the plate (after a bad decision to send Drew led to a bad throw from Florimon) would keep them from scoring another. That third run would still come in the very next inning, however, when Mike Napoli brought Shane Victorino home.
That fifth-inning single, however, was not really Drew's first heroic moment. That would come in the seventh when, still trailing by one run, Drew got a 3-1 fastball down Broadway and hooked it into the seats in right for a solo shot which tied the game for the first time since there was one out in the first.
For about an inning, it was not Stephen Drew, but Dustin Pedroia who looked like the hero, because it was Dustin Pedroia who worked a 1-2 count into a ridiculous 10-pitch at bat, ending it by taking an inside fastball into the Monster seats for his first homer of the season, giving the Red Sox the go-ahead fifth run. That would be undone, however, when Joel Hanrahan, with one out in the ninth, surrendered a home run to the same spot to Brian Dozier, tying the game. Hanrahan would leave the game with an arm injury, leaving Clayton Mortensen to finish the ninth.
What followed were two of the tensest innings of the season for Red Sox fans, because not only was the game on the line, but the state of the rotation. With the bullpen exhausted, John Farrell leaned on Mortensen for as long as he could, but for a while toyed with the idea of bringing Ryan Dempster into the game. Had he done so, the Sox would likely have been forced to take the undesirable step of calling Alfredo Aceves up from Triple-A.
After an unproductive tenth inning, however, the Red Sox finally got going with two outs in the eleventh, and it all started with an errant throw from Twins reliever Jared Burton on a swinging bunt back to the mound. Salty managed to reach first, then moved to second when Will Middlebrooks laced a single into left. That brought Stephen Drew to the plate, and the shortstop came through. Getting an outside fastball, Drew lifted a fly ball to left field and to the base of the wall past a timid Ryan Doumit. Jarrod Saltalamacchia made his way home, and the Red Sox walked off with a much-needed win.
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