This one wasn't as close as four runs.
Jon Lester was filthy for most of Thursday night. The 26-year old was dealing, especially early on as he faced the minimum through four innings. After Justin Morneau's 10th double of the season kicked off the top of the fifth, he sent down another nine in a row. The dude was just sick.
The Twins manufactured a couple of late runs, with Delmon picking up an RBI on a sac fly in the eighth, and Denard Span scoring on a Joe Mauer groundout in the ninth. Of course it was too little, too late. Minnesota had just six hits all night, with four coming in the last two innings. Lester didn't allow a solitary walk, either, which meant base runners were hard to come by...as were top halves of the inning that lasted longer than three minutes.
Francisco Liriano struggled a little bit with his control, needing 23 pitches to get through the first inning. A 15-pitch second inning was a bit better, barring Adrian Beltre's third homer of the season which put the Red Sox up 1-0. The third inning was a 24-pitch affair, with Boston mounting a two-out rally that ended in a Kevin Youkilis three-run shot to center. A 1-0 deficit wasn't so bad, but with Lester tossing ace material all night long a 4-0 hole looked too large to overcome with five innings left to go. Liriano lasted just 4.2 innings, throwing 98 pitches, and left the game trailing 5-0. The Beltre and Youkilis home runs were the first he'd allowed in 2010.
Jeff Manship would allow another run in the sixth, with Jesse Crain and Jon Rauch tossing scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth.
With that, the Twins limp home to lick their wounds. This was an atrocious road trip that saw the Twins go 2-5, ending with a season-worst three-game losing streak that leaves them tied atop the AL Central with the Detroit Tigers.
The upcoming home stand starts with the Brewers, but also includes six games between the Yankees and Rangers. Both the offense and the pitching staff are looking to recover at this point, because there hasn't been a facet of the game that's looked good over the last week. But Michael Cuddyer put the tough stretch in perspective:
"I said it before we went on this trip,'' he said. "I didn't like to use it as a measuring stick. If you go 2-5 what are we now, failing? We aren't a bad team because we went 2-5. We just didn't win, but we still have a lot of games."
I have to agree with him. Over 162 games, every team can look like a 100-win team for a few games and every team can look like a 100-loss team. And considering we're into the third week of May and this is the first bad stretch we've really seen from the Twins, it's hard to complain.
But that doesn't mean I'm not ready to see them turn it back around.