Your Minnesota Twins are now below .500. Yes, they’re officially a first-place club, too, but man ... it sure doesn’t feel like it.
While the offensive problems have been well-documented — the Twins scored only 11 runs while losing three out of four to the Tigers over the weekend — the pitching staff struggled mightily on Monday night as well.
Pablo Lopez started the game by allowing a leadoff double to Jarren Duran but then pitched around it without allowing any damage. He then pitched a perfect second inning before walking Pablo Reyes and giving up another double to Duran before otherwise pitching out of a bases-loaded jam, leaving it a 1-0 Red Sox lead at the end of three.
In the meantime, the Twins continued to flail away at the plate. They didn’t get their first baserunner until a one-out single from Joey Gallo in the bottom of the third and didn’t get a runner as far as second base until the bottom of the fifth.
But by the time the Twins put together any kind of an offensive threat, the Sox had pushed their lead to 3-0 after a two-out walk to Connor Wong and an infield single from Reyes (plus a weird throwing error on Edouard Julien that ended up not costing the Twins) was followed Duran’s third double in as many at-bats.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Twins got a single from Willi Castro and Kyle Farmer was hit by a pitch. After Joey Gallo just missed pulling a ball out to the gap in left-center, Christian Vazquez stepped to the plate and provided a surprising jolt, yanking a high fastball into the Twins bullpen for his first home run of the season (!), tying the game at three.
It didn’t take long for Boston to strike back, however. After Lopez got Christian Arroyo to strike out, he gave up a single to Tristan Casas and a double to Wong. He struck out Reyes in a huge spot, however, but it pushed his pitch total to 104 and Rocco Baldelli opted to bring in lefty Jovani Moran to face Duran, who was 3-3 with three doubles.
In a move that proved to Twins fans that their skipper isn’t the only beholden to strict platoons, Alex Cora inserted former Twin Rob Refsnyder to pinch-hit and face Moran. He drew a walk before lefty Alex Verdugo — who was not lifted for a pinch-hitter — pulled a hard ground ball down the right-field line for a triple, plating three runs and giving the Sox a 6-3 lead.
And that was pretty much the ballgame. The Twins scattered four singles and two walks over their final four at-bats but never advanced a runner beyond second base and couldn’t muster any additional extra-base hits. Jose De Leon gave up three additional earned runs to push the final margin to 9-3, and that was all she wrote.
- The offense ... woof. The Twins struck out 11 times and managed only three walks, two of which came with a six-run deficit in the ninth.
- The Twins had seven hits and the Red Sox had 10. However, the Twins had one extra-base hit (the Vazquez home run) while Boston six — four doubles, a triple, and a home run.
- The Twins continue to look feeble against lefthanded starting pitching. Yes, Vazquez hit the home run, but having both Ryan Jeffers and Royce Lewis on the bench felt questionable.
- Byron Buxton continues to take largely non-competitive at-bats. He struck out on four pitches in his first at-bat and bounced into a fielder’s choice on the first pitch in his final one. He’s now 0-for-16 with 10 strikeouts and one walk since returning from the injured list. Methinks the Twins should have sent him on a brief rehab assignment.
- Christian Vazquez: 1-for-3, HR, 3 RBI
- Willi Castro: 2-for-4, R
- Eduord Julien: 0-for-4, 2 K, error
- Alex Kirilloff: 0-for-4, 2 K, poor defensive play
- Jose De Leon: 1 1⁄3 IP, 3 ER, 3 H, BB 0 K