Minnesota was 90 degrees at nearly 7 PM Central Time tonight. Several of those degrees probably have to do with pitchers letting Justin Turner — and most of the rest of the Boston lineup — get hot lately. Still, it was a scorcher even as summer starts for a place that far north, and the Red Sox had to match that heat somehow. They came into this Tuesday night showdown winners of five straight, dating back to their sweep of the Yankees (sorry, that feels so good to say!)
Today’s contest saw Kutter Crawford, a guy who rightfully earned a spot in the rotation but got stumped by the Rockies, of all teams, last week, take the mound against Bailey Ober, the upstart who’s enjoying a sub-3 ERA season (2.65.) The 27-year-old is striking out just less than a batter an inning, but he is walking more batters than the previous two years. Still, it would take the bats having another good night to challenge Ober.
Were they up to that challenge? Not at first... but they did give Joey Gallo a difficult night to start, as Gallo missed two dives in the first two innings, one from Justin Turner and one from Connor Wong, but the Red Sox’s run column stayed empty despite this. Defensively, the Red Sox were able to turn a rare 2-6-3 double play, probably the first I’ve ever seen, and overall hold their end of the bargain, as well. Both pitchers looked very efficient through a scoreless first three innings.
Just your everyday DP started by your catcher.— Boston Strong (@BostonStrong_34) June 21, 2023
The scoreless frames didn’t last for long, as in the top of the fourth inning, Adam Duvall hit a long ball to centerfield for his first home run since his return, so maybe he can get closer to that blistering pace he was setting for himself before he broke his wrist? Christian Arroyo, who was not originally slated to start this game and only was in due to a Pablo Reyes injury (is it David Hamilton time yet???), was a bit jealous of that shot and hit a home run himself two batters later, a no-doubt shot that Gallo didn’t even have time to chase after, and all of a sudden, the score was 2-0.
Crawford proved his ability to get out of jams in this one; the Twins started this one 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, doing their best Early June 2023 Red Sox impression, I guess. Crawford saw runners threaten in improbable situations three of the first five frames, and a Connor Wong tip ball straight into the leg made me watch for a few seconds with a skipped breath, but it turned out to be a non-issue. He batted a run in in the sixth, after Arroyo, again, a guy not originally starting in this game, extended the inning with his third hit of the game, by putting Yoshida, who would score, in position. 3-for-3 isn’t bad for a guy going 0-for-11 in his previous appearances, isn’t that right, Christian?
Kutter Crawford did not come out to start the sixth, and Brennan Bernardino pitched a mostly silent inning. The seventh started with Alex Verdugo extending his hitting streak to eleven games leading off against relief pitcher Brent Headrick, and his .300 average stayed safe for another day. A few pitches later, Max Kepler misplayed a Justin Turner ball off the wall and Verdugo scored all the way from first; Turner would have a stand-up triple. Headrick then missed a Yoshida liner in the infield to score JT and make the score 5-0... oh, by the way, there were still no outs. It was around this time that Youk and OB started being entertained by NESN’s animated graphic of a home run not including a bat. Leave the animators alone, guys, as funny as a swing with just stick figure hands is, time to pay more attention to Headrick getting shelled! Casas reached base, and then promptly scored on Christian Arroyo’s FOURTH hit of the game with the bases juiced to also score Raffy and Masa. If Headrick’s headspace was an animated character, it’d be Wile E. Coyote holding a “help” sign before falling off a cliff; too bad, this inning was his now. Luckily for him, 10 batters in, the inning ended, and the score was 8-0.
Masataka Yoshida sent a ball into orbit, or at least 447 feet, seven pitches into Oliver Ortega’s latest Major League stint to score two, including Justin Turner, and increase the score to a laughable 10-0. This was a lead not even Corey Kluber could waste; I can’t even nitpick, Kluber was actually pretty efficient, anyway, even if he did give up the shutout in a Byron Buxton 2-run shot, and then gave up a home run to start the ninth inning. Kepler also smacked a home run off of him to make the score 10-4. Has Kluber just been awful this year wherever you put him, or what? I mean, I haven’t seen the Red Sox bullpen get going in the ninth inning when the pitcher came in with an 8-run lead since a Ryan Brasier outing. Anyway...
Speaking of the ninth, With the shutout gone, but the Boston lead still at 8 runs, the Twins put outfielder Willi Castro on the mound, and Arroyo led off with his first career eephus hit, and his fifth hit of the game. Funny enough, that was the only damage, as the Twins then turned a double play and Castro got off the mound much easier than any other Twins reliever tonight. Even with Kluber putting the game somewhat in the balance, the Red Sox closed it out thanks to the late fireworks, and still won quite convincingly. Even with Boston’s 15 hits, this game was still over in 2 hours and 40 minutes.
So, the elephant in the room: I complained last week about the Red Sox squandering lots of opportunities with runners in scoring position. I am not apologizing for that long winded complaint, but I will happily concede that they have appeared to turn a corner on that in the last six wins, and went 4-for-8 tonight. They have spent weeks looking for that hit, and a lot of those hits have come this week. They are now 4 wins over .500, and, hey, they’re not last place anymore! They also looked sharp defensively. I know some questions are right around the bend, including a possible infield promotion tomorrow, and when the real starting shortstop comes back, as well as some pitching staff questions, including Kluber being absolutely terrible tonight, but at least for the next 24 hours, let’s enjoy a big win and a demonstrative indication that this team can do some good if they put their minds to it.
Christian Arroyo: 5-5, HR, 2B, 3 R, 4 RBI (First game with more than 3 hits in career)
Kutter Crawford: 5 IP, 0 ER, 6 H, 5 K
Masataka Yoshida: 3-5, 1 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, K
Corey Kluber: 3 IP, 4 H, 3 HR, 1 BB, 2 K, Save
Kiké Hernandez: 0-5, GIDP against a position player
Rafael Devers: 1-4, K, HBP, R
Play of the Game
I think this game turned a corner in the seventh inning, so you can make an argument for any hit the Red Sox got in that rally, but Christian Arroyo set the tone for the rest of his night with that home run. Remember, he wasn’t even supposed to start tonight! While I’m not about to thank Pablo Reyes for getting hurt and I hope the best for him, I’m unsure this game would have turned out the way it did had it not been for Arroyo making the start instead. It was, after all, the Christian Arroyo game.
Who was the Red Sox’s Player of the Game in their blowout win against the Twins on June 20, 2023?
This poll is closed
Any Red Sox fan in the outfield in Minneapolis tonight