The Boston Red Sox won their fifth straight Sunday afternoon/evening, beating the Minnesota Twins 5-1 in a game lasting almost six hours due to rain to complete a three game sweep and improve to 5-1 on their currrent nine game road trip. Next stop-Chicago on Monday to begin a three game series against the White Sox before heading back to Fenway May 23 to take on visiting Cleveland.
The Bosox got on the board first in Sunday’s lengthy affair, taking a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a solo home run by Will Middlebrooks, his 8th round-tripper of the season. They scored again in the third following a walk to leadoff hitter Shane Victorino, starting in center for Jacoby Ellsbury. Johnny Gomes followed with a single to shallow center that allowed the Flyin Hawaiin to advance to third. Dustin Pedroia followed with a sharp grounder to Trevor Plouffe, who threw the ball away trying to turn a double play, allowing Victorino to score, making it 2-0 in the third inning.
Boston starter John Lackey set down Minnesota in order over the first four innings, facing the minimum number of batters at 12 while stroking out three on an economical 51 pitches, a far cry from Saturday’s start by teammate Ryan Dempster who labored through 4 and-two thirds innings at 127 pitches in taking a no decision.
The Red Sox pushed the lead to 3-0 on back-to-back-toback singles from Pedroia, Ortiz and Mike Napoli, who chased home Pedroia with Nap’s 35th rbi of the year. The long inning resulted in a 24-minute wait for Lackey to return to the mound in the bottom of the 5th.
Lackey’s shutout, no-hitter and perfect game went poof by Plouffe (Trevor), who lead off the fifth for Minnesota with a double and scored on a throwing error by Ciriaco to bring the Twins within 3-1. Then the Weather Gods stepped in with a rain delay.
Lackey picked up the win to improve to 2-4 on the season, leaving the contest in the bottom of the 7th as heavy rain began to fall with a pitching line og 6 IP/ 0 earned runs/ 1 hit/ 0 walks/ 6 strike outs. The victory helped the Red Sox climb to within half-a-game of division leading New York as the Yankees/Toronto were postponed due to bad weather Sunday.
Once play resumed following a delay of more than three hours, Lackey remained in the dugout, giving way to Andrew Miller who retired Minnesota 1-2-3 on 10 pitches. After Boston’s scoreless eight-inning, reliever Koki Uehara made things interesting by loading the bases by yeilding a double, walk, single, before retiring Joe Mauer for the third out of the inning to preserve Boston’s 3-1 lead.
The Red Sox added insurance in the top of the ninth, captalizing on Duston Pedroia’s two-run homer following a walk to Johnny Gomes to push Boston’s advatntage to 5-1.
Junichi Tazawa came on in the bottom of the 9th to face the Twins and made things interesting by surrendering back-to-back singles to Morneau and Plouffe before ending the contest with two strike outs and a ground out to preserve the win, which pushed the Red Sox season slate to 27-17, a full 10 games above the .500 mark. Red Sox pitchers struck out 11 Twins on the day.
***Ellsbury got his first day off of the entire 2013 season Sunday. Stephen Drew missed his second straight game due to a back injury suffered Friday night sliding into second base. Pedro Ciriaco filled at at shortstop. The Red Sox will activate Andrew Bailey on Monday, adding strength to a Boston bullpen which has been superb on this road trip, entering Sunday’s game against Minnesota with a combined team era of 0.53 over 17 innings of relief. Dustin Pedroia’s fifth inning single extended his current hit streak to 11 games.
The Red Sox will send Lester, Felix Doubront and Clay Buchholz to face the White Sox before returning to Fenway to face Cleveland and Philadephia in a five-game homestand.
- Red Sox-Twins Live: John Lackey Starts Series Finale As Sox Look to Complete Three-Game Sweep in Minnesota (nesn.com)
- PREVIEW: Boston Red Sox (24-17) at Minnesota Twins (18-19). (baseballtrashtalkin.org)