A game billed as a pitcher’s duel between Ervin Santana and Chris Sale turned out to be anything but. Santana gave up two homers and three runs in the first inning. Sale gave up four earned runs in the fourth inning. And while both pitchers went six, they hardly were at their best in what eventually became a 17-6 Boston Red Sox victory over the Minnesota Twins after Boston scored 10 runs in the ninth inning.
“Well,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor, “you never know how a game’s gonna go.”
The game took on a second life after the Twins tied it 4-4 in the fifth, an inning in which they batted around with dink and dunk hits that added up.
Sandy Leon’s two-run shot off of Santana in the sixth and Mitch Moreland’s RBI single that chased Taylor Rogers in the eighth appeared to seal it for Boston, but Minnesota mounted a comeback in the eighth.
Kennys Vargas led off the inning with a homer, and then Eduardo Escobar and Chris Gimenez drew walks off of Matt Barnes, and Eddie Rosario hit a sac fly off of Robby Scott to make it 7-6, forcing Craig Kimbrel to come in for a potential five-out save.
“We fought all series,” said Molitor. “We faced some good pitching the whole series, and I thought offensively the guys battled and today we came back from 4-0 on Chris and then find a way to get a swing away there to either tie or take the lead there in the eighth.”
Then came Mauer’s fateful at-bat. Pinch-hitting for Byron Buxton in the eighth, he took what he thought was ball four in a full count and started heading towards first. When home plate umpire Dan Iassogna rung him up, it elicited one of the largest negative reactions from Mauer in his career.
Mauer was still fired up about it after the game:
Also of note:
But in the end it didn’t matter. The Twins gave up 10 runs in the ninth inning and leave for Chicago having been outscored 28-7 in their past two games.
The damage in the ninth:
- Matt Belisle had four hits, six earned runs.
- Justin Haley gave up four runs on three hits, but three were unearned due to a Miguel Sano error at third.
“Well, Matty’s been really good for us. And, as is often the case, trouble starts with a walk,” said Molitor, referencing the walk the second batter he faced, Pedroia, took.
“We brought Justin back a little bit quickly from his rehab. He didn’t look particularly sharp, so it’s just one of those things where you’re just trying to keep it close there. I thought about going to Kintzler there, even at a one-run (deficit),” he added.
“Matty was a fine matchup for where we were at, and it just got away from us. I mean, you give up a 10-spot.”
The medical staff went out to check on Haley, but he insisted he was fine.
“Just a lot of shoulder shaking,” he said. “Almost every pitch you saw him [shaking it], but he said he felt fine, he was just trying to stay loose. He said he’s good.”
Molitor’s takeaway was that his team battled the Red Sox, a contender in the AL, well and that the two blowout losses do not indicate the discrepancy between the two teams.
“The series overall, I thought there were a lot of good things about it,” he said. “The final run differential was not indicative of the competitiveness of the series.”
The Twins have an off day Monday before they head to Chicago for a three-game series against the White Sox. The bullpen will get a rest and Brian Dozier should be back, which are positives. But the pitching as a whole remains an issue and, at the end of the day, when people look back at the final two games of the series the scores will read 11-1 and 17-6.
What was supposed to be a concise pitcher’s duel that turned into a three-hour, 46-minute affair that saw a 7-6 Boston lead balloon by ten runs in a rally that never seemed to end.