Red Sox 2, Twins 1: Pitching carries the day again

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Once again the Red Sox struggled at the plate. And once again they made up for it with excellence on the mound (and from Brock Holt).

The Red Sox aren't scoring any runs, but they're still winning some games. After taking a 1-0 victory in Monday's game against the Twins, Boston once again made do with minimal offense, downing Minnesota 2-1.

As with Monday's game, it looked like a rough night was in store for Boston's starting pitcher. To say Jon Lester labored through the first inning would be a gross understatement. It took him eleven pitches just to get to the second at bat of the game, and the first ended with a Danny Santana single besides! Lester picked up his second out of the game on pitch number 22, then battled Josh Willingham for eight more pitches before walking him on the ninth. Kendrys Morales finally let him out of the inning with a second-pitch popup, but in just one inning Lester found himself a remarkable 33 pitches deep.

Still, if Lester's first inning was difficult, he at least escaped unharmed--a claim Phil Hughes cannot make. Brock Holt led off the bottom of the first with a single to left field, then scored when Dustin Pedroia doubled into the gap in left-center. Two innings (and one ridiculous catch from Superman Holt) later, and the Red Sox scored second as well, with Xander Bogaerts hitting a sacrifice fly to bring who else but Brock Holt home after another leadoff hit, this time a double.

While Holt was busy doing everything, Jon Lester was at least doing a pretty good job of pitching. He needed 14 more pitches to get through the second inning, but did so by striking out the side in order. If the southpaw wasn't exactly getting quick outs, retiring some eleven straight batters meant he didn't need to be all that efficient. Kurt Suzuki broke that streak up with an infield single in the fifth, but Lester wrapped up the inning without letting Suzuki so much as reach second.

Finally, in the sixth, the Twins broke through on doubles from Danny Santana and Joe Mauer, leaving the Red Sox ahead by just one run. Lester would send the Sox into the bottom of the sixth still holding that lead where they would try to put together a two-out rally, but Daniel Nava's good contact went to waste as Josh Willingham gloved the final out in left.

The next few innings would prove a tightrope walk for a Red Sox team with a beleaguered bullpen. Jon Lester's pitch count held him to just one out in the seventh, where a tag team of Burke Badenhop and Craig Breslow picked up the final two outs. Junichi Tazawa mowed down the Twins in the eighth with strikeout after strikeout, but with Koji Uehara unavailable, it was Edward Mujica warming for what promised to be a scary ninth barring insurance runs.

That insurance nearly came on a high drive from Dustin Pedroia. While the ball came close to clearing the Monster, a Red Sox fan reached over, interfering with it and preventing a conclusive call off replay. What's worse, Dustin Pedroia fell down between first and second, and found himself called out trying to dodge a tag. Instead of second and third with one out, the Red Sox had just Bogaerts at third with two outs, leaving David Ortiz' fly ball to left an inning-ender instead of a potential run-scorer.

Thankfully, none of that would matter. While Edward Mujica has been just plain bad this year, tonight he was every bit the reliever the Red Sox expected when they signed him. Josh Willingham and Kendrys Morales both went down swinging through strike three, and Oswaldo Arcia flew out to left, giving the Red Sox two wins in a pair of games that has seen them score all of three runs.

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