Well, nothing good can last forever. The Red Sox had a chance to push their win streak into double digits if they could finish off a four-game sweep in Minnesota, but alas they would settle for three out of four. The offense had absolutely nothing going on early in this game against Michael Pineda, and all the Twins needed was a big second inning to have a lead for most of the game. The Red Sox showed some fight late, however, with Alex Verdugo working a tremendous at bat to clear the bases and tie the game. Unfortunately, Adam Ottavino didn’t have it in the ninth and the Twins were able to walk it off.
The Red Sox were bound to have one of those days where everything just looks flat, and coming on the tail-end of a four-game road trip with travel coming up right after the game, Thursday seemed like a good option. That was certainly the case early on, as they just had nothing going against Michael Pineda. Fans are, of course, quite familiar with the righty as he spent the bulk of his career with the Yankees, and is most known for the pine tar incident that was mentioned on the NESN broadcast roughly 6,548 times.
By all accounts things were clean here on Thursday afternoon, but the Red Sox offense just couldn’t get much going against the righty. They got a leadoff single from Kiké Hernández, but that would be the only hit they’d get through the first five innings of action. They did have a bit of a weird play in the second where Christian Vázquez thought he got hit in the hands by a pitch. It was ruled that it hit the bat handle, and it rolled fair to the shortstop. However, the home play ump had called time, so it was all very confusing. Replay showed that it did indeed hit the bat and was ruled an out despite the ump calling time. I’m not really sure the reasoning here, and because umps don’t wear mics for some reason we never did get the explanation.
The other bit of weirdness during the first half of this game came in the top half of the fifth. At this point Pineda had retired every batter he faced since that leadoff single from Hernández, but after two outs to start the inning we had one of the stranger delays I can remember. It is apparently Severe Weather Awareness week in Minnesota, and they were testing their severe weather siren. They waited that out for about 10 minutes, after which Hunter Renfroe drew a walk to finally give the Red Sox another baserunner. That’s all they’d get in the inning, though. Pineda also tossed a perfect sixth to continue the hitless streak.
On the other side, Garrett Richards was not terrible, but there was one really bad inning on the docket and with the offense struggling that was enough to put them behind for much of the game. After managing to work around a leadoff single in the first, Richards labored big time in the second. The Twins did get a quick first out, but then he issued a walk to Miguel Sanó. On the next play, Jake Cave hit a ground ball to the right side, and Bobby Dalbec’s throw just barely brought Rafael Devers (who was covering second in the shift) off the bag. Sanó was originally called out, but another replay (correctly, in my view) went against the Red Sox.
From there, the Twins loaded the bases on a single, but Richards was fortunate to avoid any runs on the board right off the bat as Dalbec made a solid play on a ball behind the bag to get the force out at the plate. That put two outs on the board, but Luis Arraez didn’t let the opportunity go completely to waste. He smacked one into right field for a base hit, bringing home two runs and giving Minnesota the 2-0 lead. Richards issued one more walk to load the bases yet again, but was able to escape from there.
So, it was a brutal inning with a ton of pitches for the Red Sox righty, but ultimately the hole was not dug too deep. He wouldn’t let the hole get any larger, either, allowing just one baserunner in each of the next two innings and then tossing a perfect fifth. That would end his day, and while he was on the hook for the loss it was still a really solid day with one bad inning against a good lineup. In all, he allowed the two runs (both unearned due to the Dalbec error) on four hits (all singles) and two walks with four strikeouts.
In the bottom of the sixth, Hirokazu Sawamura got the call out of the bullpen. He got into trouble right away, throwing a fastball middle-in to Sanó, who was all over it. He destroyed it way out to left field for a solo shot, extending the Twins lead to three. That was the only blunder in the inning, though, as Sawamura retired the next three batters he faced.
After the Red Sox finally got another hit to start the seventh, they still only sent three to the plate due to an inning-ending double play. That brought Josh Taylor out for the bottom of the inning with the score still 3-0. The lefty gave up a one-out single but nothing else to keep the score steady.
The good news for Boston is that Pineda was finally lifted from the game heading into the eighth, with Hansel Robles coming in out of the Twins bullpen. He quickly put a runner on by hitting Christian Arroyo, who then turned around and immediately stole second base. After Robles issued a four-pitch walk to Renfroe, suddenly the tying run was coming to the plate for the Red Sox. They flew out a couple times after that, but Marwin Gonzalez — who came in to pinch hit for Hernández — kept the inning alive with a walk, loading the bases for Alex Verdugo.
With Taylor Rogers now on the mound, Verdugo worked an incredible at bat. He fell behind 0-2 early, but then worked all the way back to a full count, and on the tenth pitch he saw he ripped one into left field for a bases-clearing double. Just like that, we were all tied up. That was all they’d get, but it was certainly a momentum-shifter.
Matt Andriese got the call in the eighth as the Red Sox were looking to hold onto said momentum and keep this game tied. He didn’t get the start he was looking for, giving up a leadoff double. That was followed up with a walk and a sacrifice bunt, and just like that the Twins had a pair in scoring position and just one out. Andriese appeared to follow that up with a strikeout, but the swing and miss was inexplicably called a foul tip (this was not close to correct), leading to Alex Cora’s ejection. Andriese was able to get another strike three on the next pitch, though, ending his day. The Red Sox then turned to Darwinzon Hernandez to try and wriggle out of the jam. He did just that, getting a line drive right at Devers to end the inning and strand the pair in scoring position.
Alex Colomé then entered the game for Minnesota in the ninth, and was welcomed with a one-out double from Christian Arroyo. That was all they managed to get, however, and we headed to the bottom of the ninth with the game still tied.
It was Adam Ottavino getting the call here, and he immediately put the first two guys on with a single and a hit batsman. It looked like trouble with Nelson Cruz coming up next, but Ottavino got a big strikeout to put the first out on the board. He couldn’t get any more than that though, as Max Kepler put a bloop into center field to walk it off and snap the nine-game win streak for Boston.
As of right now, the Red Sox are scheduled to kick off a four-game set against the White Sox at Fenway tomorrow night starting at 7:00 PM ET. It looks like the chances of that actually happening are low due to rain in the forecast, but if it does it will be Nick Pivetta against Dylan Cease starting at 7:10 PM ET.