Patriots’ Day is always a special day in Massachusetts, and doubly so this year with the Marathon finally returning to its rightful day after two years off. Unfortunately, the Red Sox couldn’t ride those good vibes and had a tough series finale against the Twins. Rich Hill gave up a couple of two-run homers early to put the team in an early hole, and while the pitching settled in for a few innings in the middle, the offense never quite found its rhythm and a rough eighth inning for Kutter Crawford gave Minnesota another rally and ultimately put the game away.
More robust game notes below.
As the Red Sox and Twins were getting ready to play some morning baseball, Boston’s offense was coming off a late-game explosion late in Sunday’s game that turned a pitchers’ duel into a blowout win for the home team in seemingly the blink of an eye. Given that momentum along with the fact that they were facing a homer-prone pitcher in Dylan Bundy with whom most of this lineup is familiar thanks to his days in Baltimore, it had all the makings of a big day at the plate for the good guys. Instead, they struggled to get much of anything going against the Twins starter, most perplexingly hitting most of their batted balls against him on the ground despite the righty typically being a fly ball pitcher.
Bundy is not a fireballer in any sense, with his fastball sitting at 88 mph in this game and maxing out at exactly 90 mph, which can be either a good thing or a bad thing for an offense. This time around, it seemed to keep Boston’s bats off-balance for the most part. Minnesota’s starter did give up a two-out single in the first innings when Xander Bogaerts snuck a ground ball through the left side, but that was the only baserunner Boston would manage through four innings. In that span, they struck out five times and five of their eight batted balls were hit on the ground.
On the other side, the Red Sox had Rich Hill on the mound for Marathon Monday, just days after his father, who had run in 37 Boston Marathons, passed away. The veteran southpaw looked solid in his first outing back with the team in Detroit, but he really relies on other teams being left off-balance with the different angles from which he throws his curveball. The Twins weren’t really fooled by the breaking ball too much in this one, and in fact were able to sit back and make loud contact against it. The first instance came in that first inning with Kyle Garlick at the plate with a runner on. He waited for a breaking ball on the inner half and just barely put it up and over the ledge at the top of the Monster for a two-run shot. It was actually called a double on the field, but replay showed it clearly made it over the wall.
He did bounce back with a perfect second, but the Twins got back to work in the third. There was some bad luck for Hill to kick off that frame, with Gilberto Celestino getting jammed by a fastball but still managing to bloop one into center field with a leadoff single. That was followed by Jorge Polanco absolutely destroying another curveball on the inner half, the second two-run homer of the day for Minnesota to put them up 4-0. When that was immediately followed by a single and a walk, it looked like Hill may not even make it through three.
To his credit, though, he did settle in a bit and was able to at least save the bullpen to some extent in the midst of this long stretch without an off-day. With two on in the third, Hill retired three in a row to keep those runners stranded, and then came back out for a perfect fifth. That allowed him to even come out to start the fifth, but after two quick outs he gave up a base hit which ended his day, with Phillips Valdez getting the call. The reliever got the job done, retiring the first batter he faced to finish out the inning without any trouble.
That brought Bundy back out to the mound for the fifth, and the Red Sox actually showed some signs of life here to start this inning. Alex Verdugo got it going early with a leadoff double poked out to the left field corner, which was quickly followed by a Christian Arroyo — who started for Trevor Story at second base in this game — base hit to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Boston failed to turn that into a big inning, but they did get one run on a ground ball to make it a three-run game. We also heard Dennis Eckersley inexplicably call Arroyo a “cutie pie” after the latter tagged up from first on a fly ball to left field, which was not a phrase I was expecting to hear on the broadcast today.
After Valdez came back out for a perfect sixth, the offense got to work again in the sixth, this time with Rafael Devers getting things started on a one-out single which extended his hit streak to 15 games. Xander Bogaerts followed that up with a ball into the left field corner on which a reasonable mind would’ve assumed Devers would stay at second, but instead he somehow managed to swim move his way around a tag in a way I will show you rather than try to accurately portray with words and get in safely. Unfortunately, that was followed by Devers being caught off the bag on a ground ball and getting caught in a rundown, though one that was long enough to allow runners get to second and third. Minnesota opted to intentionally walk Verdugo after that to load the bases for Arroyo, who hit one well but not well enough, flying out to center field to end the inning without any runs.
Kutter Crawford got the next call out of the Red Sox bullpen, working around a leadoff walk and a single for a scoreless seventh, bringing the offense back up trailing by three. That deficit, however, would be cut to two quickly when Christian Vázquez connected on a splitter and drove it up and over the wall in left for a solo shot, his first homer of 2022.
That was all the offense was able to put on the board that inning, and then Crawford came back out with some control issues in the eighth. The young righty walked each of the first two batters he faced, and after a fly ball moved a runner over to third, a wild pitch brought another run home to put Minnesota up by three again. After an intentional walk and a regular two-out walk, Crawford had the bases loaded, and Polanco came through with a big single through the right side, bringing two more home and opening up the score to a 7-2 game. Hirokazu Sawamura came in next, throwing yet another wild pitch to add another run to Minnesota’s total before the inning mercifully ended.
That would pretty much do it for this game, with the Red Sox not able to turn it on late to overcome their six-run deficit, scoring one run but nothing more in the ninth and ultimately falling 8-3 to move split this four-game set and move their overall record back down to .500.
The Red Sox now stay at home, welcoming in the Blue Jays for their first meeting of the season. That series will kick off on Tuesday, with Nathan Eovaldi taking on Yusei Kikuchi. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM ET.