Well, the Red Sox went on the road to take on the team with the best record in baseball heading into this series, and they took two of three. One good series against a good team isn’t everything for a team that has underachieved as the Red Sox have, but you have to start somewhere. In Wednesday’s game, they got a little bit of everything they needed, even when things looked ugly at times. Eduardo Rodriguez, for example, didn’t look great for chunks of this game, losing his command and control at various points. Despite that, he gave the team seven solid innings on a night they desperately needed a little length. The offense, meanwhile, made sure to cash in on their opportunities and eventually opened up a big lead with nine runs on the board. The Red Sox are heating up for the summer.
After the first two games of this series in Minnesota were defined by strong, crisp starting pitching, Wednesday’s series finale featured anything but. Neither Eduardo Rodriguez nor Kyle Gibson had their best stuff and command in this game, as it sort of dragged on with the offenses getting plenty of baserunners and putting some runs on the board to boot. Still, while the style of the game differed from the first two, we still had a close, back-and-forth affair much like the other games between there two squads.
It was the Twins getting on the board first, though, and they did so right away in the first inning where it was clear Rodriguez wasn’t at his best. The Red Sox lefty just didn’t seem comfortable or in a groove at all in this game, and Minnesota is a lineup that will make you pay if you’re not at your best. In that bottom of the first, C.J. Cron got on with a one-out single before Nelson Cruz came up and rocketed one high off the wall in right field. It took a huge carom off the wall that Jackie Bradley Jr. collected before firing home to get the not-so-fleet-of-foot Cron at the plate. Cruz did get to third on the play, but there were two outs and it was still scoreless. Unfortunately, Eddie Rosario would change that with a base hit in the next at bat, and the Twins were up 1-0 after one.
The good news is Boston’s offense didn’t wait long to get that run back and then some. After the top of the order went down 1-2-3 in the first, the middle of the order made sure to get things going. Rafael Devers started the second off with a base hit, and then after Xander Bogaerts drew a walk Brock Holt came through with a single to score a run and tie the game before an out was recorded. Michael Chavis followed that up with an RBI single of his own to make it 2-1 and Bradley drew a walk to load the bases, still with no outs. The Red Sox had a chance to really put a dent in this game with this chance, but they failed to come through as much as they could have. Mookie Betts did contribute yet another single to drive in one more, but they settled for a 3-1 lead after the inning.
Rodriguez did follow that up by working around a pair of baserunners in the bottom of the second for a shutdown inning, but the Twins got the work in getting back in this game after that. With Boston still up two in the third, Minnesota drew a couple of walks to put two on with two outs. Rodriguez had been better with his control of late and really all year compared to the rest of his career, but the walks came back to bite him here when Luis Arraez poked a single through the left side to cut the Twins’ deficit in half.
While control was the issue in the third, it was the long ball that got the best of Rodriguez in the fourth while also giving the Twins the lead once again. Willians Astudillo led off the inning and got a first-pitch fastball up in the zone over the middle of the plate. The catcher/second baseman jumped all over it, sending it out to left-center field for a solo homer that immediately tied the game at three. A couple batters later, it was Max Kepler at the plate. The outfielder was the hero in Tuesday’s marathon game, and he came through again in this one. Rodriguez threw him a flat slider down in the zone on an 0-2 pitch, and Kepler demolished one out to right field for another solo shot. Just like that, it was a 4-3 lead for the Twins after four.
In the fifth, the Red Sox had a case of good news and bad news. The good news is they got their lead back and then some. J.D. Martinez — who has had a brutal couple of days — drew a leadoff walk before Devers singled and Bogaerts ripped a double. Martinez would score on the double to tie the game, but Devers tweaked a hamstring on his way to third and had to leave the game. We’ll be holding our breath on that injury hoping it’s nothing overly serious. With Devers out of the game, the Red Sox did keep the attack going with a sacrifice fly and a base hit. Once the dust settled, it was a 6-4 lead for the Red Sox after the top of the fifth.
From here, the pitching settled down and things started to move along a little more. Following that two-homer fourth inning, Rodriguez got into a groove. Kepler hit his home run with one out in the fourth, but after that the Red Sox lefty cruised his way through the sixth, allowing just one single over the next couple innings. Rodriguez would come back out for one more 1-2-3 inning after that. For as inconsistent as he was early, the lefty settled in in a big way to get through seven innings for the Red Sox after their bullpen was decimated earlier in the week.
In the eighth, Boston’s offense opened things up a bit more to extend their lead for their bullpen. It started with one out in the inning when Betts ripped a triple out to right field. Andrew Benintendi then followed that up with a double out to left field that bounced off the glove of Eddie Rosario to make it 7-4. Martinez then snapped an 0-11 skid with a base hit to make it 8-4. They would eventually get one more on a bases loaded walk to make it 9-4 with six more outs to go.
In the bottom of the eighth, it was Matt Barnes coming on in the five-run game. He did allow a couple of baserunners on a walk and an infield single, but no runs came across. After that it was Marcus Walden for the ninth, and he tossed a 1-2-3 inning with the help of his defense to finish this off and give the Sox the victory.
The Red Sox have a day off on Thursday as they head back out east for their return to Fenway. That will be on Friday when they take on the Blue Jays for a three-game set over the weekend. The first game will have Chris Sale on the mound to take on Trent Thornton. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.