The Red Sox had their win streak snapped in 17 innings and almost six hours of baseball. I’m tired. Read below.
In a series with the best offense in baseball this season (statistically speaking at least) and the best offense in baseball last season facing off, there was some expectation for runs to be aplenty this week in Minnesota. Granted, both teams have good pitching as well with the Red Sox in particular getting plenty of strong performances from their rotation of late. Still, with all of the talent up and down each of these lineups it was hard not to focus on the offense.
Tuesday was the second game of this series, however, and it was the second straight night where starting pitching was the focal point for both sides. David Price was on the mound for the Red Sox, fresh off an outing in which he only recorded four outs while allowing six runs to the Rangers. He was looking for a bounce-back performance after that disappointing start and that’s exactly what he got.
The veteran southpaw did allow a base hit to Jorge Polanco to lead off the night, but things got better after that. Price retired each of the next three batters he faced on weak fly balls to end that first inning, and then he retired the next six batters he faced as well for 1-2-3 innings in the second and third.
On the other side, the Red Sox were seeing a familiar face, though one they haven’t seen in a few years. That would be former Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda, who is coming off surgery and had missed all of 2018. The righty is back in action now, and the Red Sox struggled to get much going against him. Like the Twins, they did get a runner in the first on an Andrew Benintendi single, but J.D. Martinez quickly followed that with an inning-ending double play. Also like the Twins, Boston went down in order in the second and third innings, meaning Pineda had faced the minimum the first time through the order.
In the fourth, both offenses got going a bit. For the Red Sox, it started right away in the top of that inning when Mookie Betts led off with a walk. He would then swipe second base, but Benintendi and Martinez both struck out after that. This left it up to Rafael Devers to get the runner home, and he did just that with a single into right field to give his team a 1-0 lead. That was all they’d get in that fourth, but if Monday’s game was any indication it would be enough.
However, the Twins had some other ideas. Minnesota did it with a little two-out rally started by Eddie Rosario, who poked a double out to right field to get the sequence going. C.J. Cron then came up and smacked a line drive into center field, scoring a run and tying the game just like that. Like Boston, they would settle for just the one run in the fourth, but it was a 1-1 game.
From here, we fast-forward to the bottom half of the sixth with the score still tied at one apiece. Despite that, and despite Price having thrown only 73 pitches, the lefty was out of the game with Mike Shawaryn starting the inning for the Red Sox. It was certainly not a good sign and also a surprise as Price hadn’t shown any indication that he was feeling anything on the mound. The team later said it was not injury-related.
Still, the Red Sox had to turn to their bullpen and Minnesota immediately took advantage with a leadoff double and a base hit to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Things turned around quickly, though, when Christian Vázquez caught Mitch Garver napping and nailed him with a snap throw to third for the first out. After a fly out gave Shawaryn his second out, the righty walked the next two batters he saw to load the bases. He settled down, though, and struck out Miguel Sanó to get out of the troublesome frame withe the game still tied.
As we moved on to the seventh, the Twins also turned to their bullpen with Ryne Harper taking over for Pineda. Devers would be the first batter he saw, and the Red Sox third baseman continued to swing a hot bat. Harper tried to sneak a curveball by him, but it broke right down the middle of the plate in the bottom third of the zone, and Devers loves that location. He lifted it deep out to right field for a solo shot, and just like that it was a 2-1 lead for the Red Sox.
With Boston now in command of the game, it was Ryan Brasier coming on for the seventh after getting the save in Monday’s win. He got a 1-2-3 inning with a couple of strikeouts and some help from his defense when Jackie Bradley Jr. climbed up the wall to rob a two-out extra-base hit.
After the Red Sox failed to add to their lead in the eighth, Brandon Workman came on for the bottom half. The righty started his outing off with a walk, which has been a problem for him all year. After getting a couple of outs after that, the runner would move up to second on a wild pitch before Workman issued another walk to Cron to extend the inning. That was big, because Max Kepler came up next and ripped a line drive into right field. Fortunately Betts was able to cut it off and prevent it from getting to the wall, but it was enough to score one run and tie the game. Workman did come back with a strikeout to the end inning, but the damage was done.
Boston then went down in order in the top of the ninth, bring Matt Barnes out for the bottom half to try and force extras. The righty, pitching in his first game since Saturday, hit the first batter he saw. He recovered well from there, though, getting a couple of strikeouts and a pop up to push the game into the tenth.
Brock Holt was first up for the Red Sox in extra innings, and he got the job done with a double out to right field to kick things off. A ground out would then move the runner up to third base with one out, but after Bradley Jr. was hit by a pitch Vázquez hit a fly ball out to right field for the second out that was too shallow to score the run. So, now it was up to Betts with two outs and the go-ahead run at third, and while he sent one a long way it was caught just shy of the wall in right-center field to end the inning.
From here, we head to the top of the twelfth after Josh Taylor had tossed a pair of scoreless innings for the Red Sox. Boston’s offense got a bit going here as well when Holt and Bradley each singled to put the go-ahead run in scoring position with two outs. Vázquez could not come through, though, striking out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the twelfth, the Twins threatened with Colten Brewer on the mound. After a couple of outs to start the inning, Nelson Cruz reached on a walk before Eddie Rosario singled to put the winning run in scoring position. He would be stranded on a deep fly out, though, and we’d head to the 13th.
Finally, in the 13th, the score changed. Betts led off the inning for the Red Sox and after working a full count he got a changeup that stayed right in the fat part of the zone. Betts jumped on it and ripped it out to left field off the foul pole for a solo home run to make it 3-2 Red Sox.
So, now the game was in the hands of Hector Velázquez in his first appearance since being reinstated from the injured list. It did not go well. Max Kepler was the first batter he’d face and the Twins outfielder got a fastball right down the middle for a solo home run, and just like that we were tied back up. Velázquez would get three outs from there, and it was on to the 14th.
There, the Red Sox had another chance to get the lead right back when Holt once again started the inning with a base hit. Michael Chavis followed that up with a single of his own before Bradley moved the runners up with a sacrifice bunt. The rationale behind the bunt it obvious — make it so a deep fly ball can get the lead — but it also takes the bat out of the hands of one of your hotter hitters with a runner in scoring position. Long story short, the Red Sox did not score.
From here we go to the bottom of the 15th with the game still tied at three and Velázquez still going for the Red Sox. Things did not start off well for the good guys when Rosario doubled to start off the inning. However, Cron followed that up with a line drive to Chavis at first and Rosario was caught too far off the bag. He was doubled up, and suddenly the bases were empty with two outs. Kepler then struck out and we were heading to inning number 16.
We actually fast-forward to the 17th, though, Benintendi started off with a single moved to third on a stolen base and an error. That all happened with no outs, but the Red Sox still managed to not score with a strikeout and two ground outs. Velázquez was supposed to pitch again in the bottom of the inning, but he was lifted with a back injury and Brian Johnson came in. The lefty struggled, getting a quick first out before allowing a single and a double — the double came after Rosario appeared to be out of the batter’s box on a bunt attempt but the ump refused to call it — to put two in scoring position with just one out. After intentionally walking the bases loaded, Kepler came through with the hit to break the tie and end this long, long game. Alex Cora did get some yelling at the umpires in before he went down to the clubhouse.
The Red Sox and Twins finish off their three-game set on Wednesday as Boston tries to make it eight in a row. They’ll send Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound in that one while Minnesota counters with Kyle Gibson. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 PM ET.