The Red Sox needed a win on Wednesday. We’ve heard that a lot this year, but with less than a month to go in the year must-wins are exactly that at this point. Boston couldn’t afford two losses in a row at this point, and they came through when they needed it. Mookie Betts led the charge offensively, socking a pair of homers on the first two pitches he saw in the night and knocking in five runs overall. Eduardo Rodriguez, meanwhile, looked great in seven shutout innings, with his changeup in particular shining. The Red Sox now have another one they’ve gotta have on Thursday.
The offense wasn’t really the issue in Tuesday’s loss to the Twins, as they ended up with five runs on the board. They had chances to score more and at least tie the game, but in the end five runs is a solid if unspectacular day. One criticism you could give them for that series-opening game against the AL Central leaders, though, was that they didn’t get anything going early. Rick Porcello’s rough night was the biggest reason for the loss, but that the offense didn’t get any early runs on the board only exacerbated the early hole.
For Wednesday’s game, it was even more important to get going early against José Berríos. The Twins righty has had some mechanical issues over the last month, and those are the types of problems that can lead to confidence issues early in games. Sure enough, the Red Sox offense got going as early as humanly possible. Mookie Betts was leading off as he always does, and the first pitch he saw was a fastball middle-in. You don’t do that to Mookie Betts. He smashed a leadoff homer, and one pitch in the Red Sox had a 1-0 lead.
Boston did get a couple more baserunners in the inning on a single and a walk, but they only scored the one run on the dinger. They would get right back to work in the second, too, with the bottom of the lineup getting it started. Christian Vázquez would smack a one-out single before Jackie Bradley Jr. drew a walk, putting a pair on in front of Betts. Folks, he did the damn thing again. This time, Berríos tried to start the at bat with a curveball down in the zone but it stayed up. Betts jumped all over it yet again, smashing his second homer of the day with this one giving the Red Sox a 4-0 lead just two innings in.
On the other side, Eduardo Rodriguez was trying to be a stabilizing presence in a rotation that really needed it. This is a group that came off a weekend series in L.A. with just six total innings from starting pitchers before Porcello’s rough night on Tuesday. Rodriguez was not exactly perfect in this one, with the Twins getting themselves some baserunners throughout. He made big pitches when he needed to, though, and most importantly he kept the ball in the yard. That’s a task easier said than done against this Minnesota lineup.
Before Betts started the Red Sox offense’s night with a bang, Rodriguez did the same thing on the other side. In the top half of the first the southpaw dominated the Twins, striking out each of the first three batters he faced to get through an easy inning. He got himself into a little more trouble in the second when Jonathan Schoop came on with two on and two out. Rodriguez came through with a huge at bat, though, getting the second baseman to swing through a high fastball to strand the runners and keep the Twins at zero.
He worked around a leadoff single in the third before having his toughest inning of the night in the fourth. Eddie Rosario started that inning with a base hit and Miguel Sanó followed it up with a base hit of his own. With two on and nobody out, Rodriguez needed a big pitch and he got it when he induced a massive 4-6-3 double play, putting a runner on third along with two outs on the board. Rodriguez lost the zone for a bit after that, though, and after back-to-back walks the bases were full for Willians Astudillo. This was a huge at bat in a 4-0 game in which the Red Sox had all the momentum, and they held on to it with a routine fly ball out to right field to end the threat.
The fifth and sixth would be a little easier for Rodriguez. He did hit the first batter he faced in the fifth, but immediately followed it with a double play. In the sixth, he’d only allow a single.
Meanwhile, the offense was mostly quiet after those big first two innings, but that would change in the bottom of the sixth. With the score still 4-0, Brock Holt and Mitch Moreland started the inning with a single and a walk. Vázquez would then just miss a double down the right field line, so on the next pitch he put one down the left field line for a double into that corner. That brought Holt home and put two in scoring position with nobody out. After the first out was recorded, Betts came back up and got his fourth hit of the game, knocking in one more run and giving the 2018 MVP five RBI through six. That was all they’d get, but it was a 6-0 lead.
Rodriguez would come out for one more inning after that. Following a couple of quick outs, he did give up a base hit. He would come right back and finish the frame with a strikeout on a changeup, his best pitch throughout the night. It was a phenomenal outing for Rodriguez exactly when his team needed it.
In the eighth, Ryan Brasier got the call out of the bullpen. He did not do well, giving up a leadoff base hit ahead of Rosario. The Twins outfielder jumped all over a high fastball and send it way out into the Red Sox bullpen. That put Minnesota on the board and cut the Red Sox lead to four. After getting the first out of the inning, Brasier was removed for Josh Taylor. The lefty did allow a single but that was all and the inning ended with the Sox still up 6-2.
The ninth would belong to Darwinzon Hernandez. He did strike out the first batter he faced, but then he walked the next two and that was that. Brandon Workman had to come on with two on and one out in the four-run game. He wasted no time finishing this one, getting Cruz to ground into a game-ending double play to seal the victory.
The Red Sox and Twins have their rubber match on Thursday night with Nathan Eovaldi taking on Martín Pérez. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM ET.