For a little while, it seemed as if this was going to be another one of those nights for the Red Sox offense. Going up against Kyle Gibson, who hasn’t exactly been impressive for the Twins this season, it looked like the Red Sox were going to make yet another subpar starter look like a star. They sent only nine batters to the plate in the first three innings, though they did manage to get a couple of singles that were eliminated by double plays.
Meanwhile, David Price didn’t give the greatest first impression in the opening frame, allowing a double off the Monster that was smoked off the bat of Brian Dozier in the first at bat of the game. He settled down in a big way after that, although Dozier would score after a couple of productive outs from the Twins.After that double, though, he retired the next nine Twins he faced.
That brings us to the fourth inning with the Red Sox still trailing by a score of 1-0. It was going to get worse for a minute before it got better. Price struggled a bit in the fourth, and much of it was a result of his own mental error. After starting things off by allowing a groundrule double to Robbie Grossman, he gave up a little line drive to Joe Mauer. Mitch Moreland was able to field the liner on one hop, but Price didn’t immediately break to cover the bag. That allowed Mauer to reach base and wasted what could have been a key out. The one piece of good news is that Grossman thought the ball was caught in the air and didn’t advance. Price then got a big strikeout and allowed a deep fly out to put runners on the corners with one out. Unfortunately, he couldn’t come through with one more big out as he left a changeup right over the heart of the plate to Jorge Polanco, who missed a home run by maybe a foot. Instead, it was a two-RBI double to give the Twins a 3-0 lead.
On the plus side, the Red Sox offense started to come to life a little bit in the bottom half of the inning. Or, at least, Mookie Betts started to come to life as he punished an inside fastball and smacked it off the light post in left field for a solo home run to lead off the inning and cut the deficit to two. This was a mistake as Gibson was trying to keep the ball on the outer half, but it served as a good reminder to never, ever throw Betts an inside fastball.
After a scoreless fifth inning from Price, the Red Sox offense really started to get going in the bottom half of the frame. The rally started with a Hanley Ramirez walk, which was followed by a double from Jackie Bradley. It wasn’t your typical double, though, as it somehow hit the ladder hanging on the Green Monster. That ended up being big, because without that favorable landing spot Ramirez wouldn’t be able to score. From there, Christian Vazquez would reach on an error, Tzu-Wei Lin would ground out to move the runners to second and third, and Deven Marrero hit a weak grounder that was placed well enough to score another run and tie the game. Just for good measure, Betts came through with a single after that to give Boston their first lead of the contest.
Price came back with another scoreless inning and the sixth, and the Red Sox tagged on another run in the bottom half. This time it came on a solo blast from Hanley Ramirez. Unlike his last homer that wrapped around Pesky’s Pole, this one was destroyed out to straightaway center. It was an encouraging swing from a struggling slugger.
Price would come back out for one more frame in the seventh and he was able to set down the bottom of the Twins order with ease. It wasn’t always pretty for the southpaw on Thursday, and his mental mistake in the fourth was almost very costly, but overall it was a really solid step in the right direction for Price. He’s now had two consecutive starts that have you feeling good, even if they weren’t vintage David Price.
The Red Sox would add another in the bottom half of the inning on a triple from Tzu-Wei Lin (in his first career plate appearance against a left-handed pitcher, no less) followed by an RBI double from Deven Marrero. When those two are creating runs, you know it’s turned into a good night.
From there it was up to the bullpen and Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel were up to the task.
This was a good win for the Red Sox even if it got off to a lousy start. Although we’d all like to see some more early offense from this lineup, we’ll take this game every time. Price took another step in the right direction and continued to look like he’s starting to figure out his command. He had zero walks in this outing for the first time all season. Meanwhile, the lineup got production from everyone, including home runs from Betts and Ramirez. Those are two key hitters who have been struggling, and getting them on track would be a huge boost for an offense that could really use a spark. That’s three out of four against a solid Twins team, and the Red Sox will look to carry that momentum into Toronto on Friday.