Falling water kind of killed the early momentum of this game and put the game in jeopardy for the starting pitchers. Initially, the weather delayed the start of the game by 45 minutes. They were able to play a couple of innings after that, but eventually the tarp was back over the field and we had to wait another 90 minutes or so for the action to resume.
This seemed like a rough turn of events for Drew Pomeranz, who looked outstanding before the second rain delay. In the first two innings, the lefty retired all six batters he faced with three of them going down by way of the K (miss you Don) and the other three grounding out. It seemed like the long delay could mean a premature end to his outing, but the Red Sox decided to send him back out anyway.
This was obviously a risky decision, as you never know how a pitcher is going to react to such a long down period between pitches. It initially looked like it was going to be a bad call, too, as that third inning started with a double from Eddie Rosario. Fortunately, the Twins outfielder then decided to try and steal third for some reason and was easily thrown out by Christian Vazquez. That seemed to help Pomeranz settle down, and he cruised from that point forward.
He’d up throwing five innings in the start and allowed just one run over the time. That came in the fifth inning, though it’s hard to pin that outcome on Pomeranz. At the time, he came into the frame with a 5-0 lead and after a quick first out he induced a fairly routine grounder to third base. Unfortunately, the ball ate up Deven Marrero and Jorge Polanco reached on an error. After a wild pitch that was stabbed at rather than blocked by Vazquez moved Polanco to second, Rosario reached on a well-placed infield single to first base. Byron Buxton followed that up with a single and Minnesota had their first run of the game. Pomeranz battled from there, though, and got two strikeouts to end the inning.
Besides that relatively rough inning that was partially brought on by his defense, Pomeranz was outstanding. He did only last five innings, but it’s important to remember his night was disrupted by the weather. Despite that, he still managed to strike out seven batters and didn’t walk anyone. Pomeranz had all of his pitches working and even worked in a few changeups here and there. He’s starting to look like a really viable option, and he’s not even letting rain slow him down.
Meanwhile, the offense did its thing and put a big number on the board against a Twins staff that was forced to lean heavily on its bullpen on Tuesday night. After stranding a couple of runners in the first, they started to pile on. They got their first two in the second before the rain delay when Christian Vazquez launched a two-run homer into the Monster Seats. It was his first dinger of the year, but what was even more impressive was that Dennis Eckersley called the outcome at the start of the at bat.
After the delay, the Twins went to the bullpen and the Red Sox just kept hitting. Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley all hit singles in the third to give Boston a 3-0 lead. In the fourth, a Vazquez walk, a Deven Marrero double, a Mookie Betts sacrifice fly and a Pedroia single gave them a 5-0 lead. They’d tack one more on in the sixth and then three more in the seventh on a three-run home run from Chris Young.
Overall, it was the kind of performance we’d been waiting to see from the Red Sox offense for a while. Granted, it came against a rough starting pitcher and a bullpen that came in much earlier than they expected. Still, they took advantage of big situations and hit for some power with five runs coming via the long ball. Boston could still use a hot streak from Betts, but the rest of the offense may be starting to click, at least.
The rest of the Red Sox game was in the bullpen’s hands, and they handled it fairly well. Blaine Boyer had the first two innings, and while he got into a little bit of trouble he didn’t allow any runs. Fernando Abad came in from there and immediately gave up a home run. He settled down after that, though, and got through the rest of the game.
Elsewhere in the American League East on Tuesday, the Yankees blew a late lead against the White Sox. With that loss and Boston’s victory, the Red Sox have taken sole possession of first place. They can thank a well-rounded victory for that, and most importantly another strong performance from Pomeranz.