Red Sox-Twins Live: Stephen Drew Collects Third RBI of Night on Walkoff Double As Boston Beats Minnesota 6-5

Ortiz Victorino LiveblogFinal, Red Sox 6-5 (11 innings): Ballgame.

Stephen Drew is the hero of the evening, popping his fourth hit of the night and notching his third RBI on a big double that had no trouble scoring the winning run.

Will Middlebrooks had finally come through, lacing a single for his first hit of the night — making every Red Sox starter have a hit in this one — after Jarrod Saltalamacchia also hit a single. Saltalamacchia didn’t gamble coming around second despite Middlebrooks getting some distance on his hit, and Drew made the smart choice pay off, hitting one off the wall that easily scored Saltalamacchia.

It was a strange final inning, with Ryan Dempster up in the bullpen and Boston trying to find any way it could to win. The inning had a couple of close calls already — a Mike Napoli shot down third base looked to be going foul until the Twins reeled it in for an out, and Minnesota’s Chris Parmelee made a great catch in center field that sent the Red Sox down to their last out.

Drew was there, though, recording the third walkoff hit of his career in what is also the Red Sox’ third walkoff win of this year.

The win provides a satisfying ending for what had been an uneven night for Boston. After watching Clay Buchholz struggle at the beginning, allowing four earned runs over six innings, the Sox inched their way back with five one-run innings. They appeared to have the game in hand until the top of the ninth, when newly anointed closer Joel Hanrahan gave up a homer that pulled the Twins even again. Hanrahan ended up leaving the game soon after.

The Red Sox announced shortly before the game ended that Hanrahan had left the game with right forearm tightness and that he will be re-evaluated tomorrow.

The team also said that Dempster is ready to start Tuesday.

Boston has plenty of questions, with its pitching staff especially depleted after this one. But it was a great night for the Boston offense to get back on track. Stephen Drew was 4-for-5 with three RBIs, and Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia both went 3-for-5 with an RBI. Buchholz ended the night with nine strikeouts.

That’s it for us tonight. Come on back tomorrow as the Twins look to keep it rolling against Minnesota in the second game of the homestand.

Mid 11th, 5-5: Clayton Mortensen continues to put up zeroes, setting the plate for the Red Sox to try again in the bottom of the 11th. Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who each have one hit tonight, are due up.

The Red Sox ended up showing up offensively, compiling 14 hits. The only Boston starter without a hit is Will Middlebrooks.

Koji Uehara is also warming up, so Boston may not have to turn to Ryan Dempster.

11:34 p.m.: Ryan Dempster, or perhaps a fan who looks a lot like Ryan Dempster who has just been given a Red Sox uniform, is warming up in the bullpen.

End 10th, 5-5: Alas, Mike Carp could not save the day. He came in to pinch-hit for Pedro Ciriaco but was retired. Couple that with a Shane Victorino flyout and Dustin Pedroia strikeout, and it’s on to the 11th.

Mid 10th, 5-5: Mike Napoli can field.

If anybody brings up that Napoli is supposed to be a catcher, just show them a clip of the play he made to end that inning. Ryan Doumit laced a hard one just inside the first base line, but Napoli went over to snag it. The ball ticked off his glove, but he scrambled in time to toss to Mortensen and just get the out. It was a fantastic defensive stop to cap the inning.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox need to get it done in this frame, or they may be in some trouble. Ryan Dempster, who is scheduled to start tomorrow, went to the bullpen between innings, according to several reports.The Red Sox are thin on relief, but no one thought they were this thin. Manager John Farrell has talked about cutting down on using Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa, and his reluctance to use them more than prescribed could mean dipping into the rotation, apparently, even if it messes up the rest of the week.

End 9th, 5-5: Extra innings. A lot of the juice is gone from this one, but the Red Sox apparently heard that they need to “gut out” a win, so they’ve set up the perfect scenario to do just that.

Both the Twins and Red Sox have gone to extras twice this year, and both are 1-1.

Boston didn’t do much to help its cause in the bottom of the ninth. Stephen Drew had a nice line-drive single, but Jacoby Ellsbury bounced him into a double play.

Will Middlebrooks just cannot find it right now. He struck out on a nasty inside pitch that had him handcuffed.

Scoring just one run an inning looked cute when the Red Sox were doing it, but the end of the eighth is looming larger now. If Pedro Ciriaco hadn’t been cut down at third, the Sox would have had men on first and third with two outs. Instead, the inning ended.

Something to talk about in the break: Where shall the Red Sox turn for a closer? Joel Hanrahan appeared to have hurt something when he left the game in the top of the ninth, with early guesses being that it was his right hand.

The Red Sox don’t have tons of options in the minor leagues, and both Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard, who would have been no-thinkers as closers before, have more red flags than answers. Hanrahan was supposed to take care of all this head-scratching.

Mid 9th, 5-5: Clayton Mortensen did his job, getting Justin Morneau out on a close play at first to end the inning.

Will Middlebrooks, Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury are due up for the hopes of a walk-off in the ninth inning. Drew has been the hero of the night so far with a home run and two RBIs. Ellsbury has one hit, and Middlebrooks’ slump continues.

10:56 p.m.: Maybe the Red Sox and Twins don’t know that it’s pretty late. Anyway, that pitching change took enough time that we could find this fantastic photo for you. Remember how I said Dustin Pedroia was totally swinging out of his shoes when he walloped that homer out of here earlier? No joke.

Pedroia pulled the classic knee-on-the-ground longball routine for that dinger. Check it out.

Dustin Pedroia

10:52 p.m.: The Red Sox will have to provide some final-inning magic. Joel Hanrahan was officially given the closer mantle this afternoon as Andrew Bailey hit the disabled list, but the newfound confidence did not give him enough of a boost not to allow another ninth-inning home run. The homer has been especially bad for Hanrahan this year, who has given up four when trying to finish off games en route to a 9.82 ERA.

The culprit on this one was Brian Dozier, a .241 hitter who has no home runs and just eight RBIs this year. Dozier connected on the homer after a wild at-bat from Hanrahan. After Jarrod Saltalamacchia set up a low, outside target a couple of pitches in, Hanrahan let a fastball get away up and inside, and Dozier hit the deck. He then pummeled a Hanrahan offering out of the park.

Hanrahan has been yanked from the game, and Clayton Mortensen is coming in to try to wrap up the inning. Hanrahan walked Josh Willingham before leaving, and Eduardo Escobar is pinch-running.

End 8th, Red Sox 5-4: OK. There’s got to be some voodoo going on here.

Not only did the Red Sox score one run an inning in five straight innings to put themselves ahead, but now David Ortiz has logged his first hit of the night. That means his hitting streak, now at 26 games, is kept alive — and, not to be outdone, Ortiz also made sure it was an extra-base hit. The double means he’s had an extra-base hit in all but one of his games this year. It’s like he knew what had to be done and got it taken care of before he ran out of time, just like the Red Sox. What the heck!

Pedro Ciriaco was sent in to pinch-run for Ortiz. Ortiz showed some agility and scampered back to second base after Napoli lined out, but manager John Farrell likely didn’t want to take a chance with Ortiz tweaking anything, and he sent Ciriaco in after that.

Ciriaco, however, ended the inning in a very un-Moneyball kind of way for the Sox. He tried to swipe third base after Jarrod Saltalamacchia drew a walk, and he was tagged out.

Something to note from tonight: The strange offensive night for the Sox has led to a dearth of stolen bases, generally an area of strength for them. Coming into this one, they were pretty adept at getting extra bags, but they had trouble advancing runners as they struggled to get on base tonight. Perhaps Ciriaco was trying to help with that.

The Red Sox are first in the American League with 26 stolen bases, and they’re second in MLB, with Milwaukee having 27. Boston didn’t steal its 26th base until June 15 last year. Not surprisingly, Jacoby Ellsbury is the leader with 12, which also leads MLB.

Joel Hanrahan is coming in to try to get the save.

10:25 p.m.: Pedroia. What a shot.

Perhaps the only thing more impressive than that monster — pun intended — home run off the light stand on top of the Wall was that Pedroia just about swung out of his shoes just a couple of pitches before. He looked to be pressing pretty hard against Casey Fien, but he stayed in the at-bat, and his patience was rewarded with a huge shot to left.

The Red Sox now lead, 5-4, and righty Anthony Swarzak is coming on in relief.

Mid 8th, 4-4: Craig Breslow took care of things quickly in the eighth, sending down Trevor Plouffe, Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks in order.

Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli are due up in the bottom of the eighth. Pedroia and Napoli have collected four hits tonight, but Ortiz is in danger of his 25-game streak ending, as he hasn’t reached yet tonight.

End 7th, 4-4: Is this the great Stephen Drew awakening? Drew has two hits tonight, and both have scored big runs for the Red Sox. This one was a high-flying home run to right field — and by “high-flying,” Ie mean it was really high, but not much else. It just made it over the fence in right, but that’ll do.

The Red Sox couldn’t do much else that inning, but they fulfilled the prediction and have tied the game, 4-4. Drama time.

Craig Breslow gets some tight action in his first appearance for the Red Sox. He’s coming in for the eighth.

10 p.m.: The Bruins have won, 5-2, to go up 2-1 in their first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Time for the Red Sox to get going.

Mid 7th, Twins 4-3: Andrew Miller took care of the rest of that inning easily, and the Sox head into the bottom of the seventh looking to score for the fourth inning in a row. They’ve tallied one run in each of the last three frames, and it would be poetic justice to tie the game with one more here.

Then again, we’ll permit more than one run, if that’s what they really want.

Casey Fien is in to pitch for Minnesota.

Craig Breslow is warming for the Red Sox.

9:49 p.m.: Andrew Miller is headed into the game in relief.

The Twins have runners on first and second with one out.

Some highlights from the Bruins game just played on the big screen here at Fenway Park, and the crowd cheered on each goal. Boston is up 5-2, and it’s been a pretty good game.

9:37 p.m.: If you are the type that enjoy watching home runs that just make it around Pesky’s Pole, you’ll like this replay of Shane Victorino’s first homer of the season.

Also, Alex Wilson is in for Clay Buchholz. He has a 1.93 ERA this season in eight appearances.

End 6th, Twins 4-3: From our little perch up here in the press box, where you can pretty much peer down on the top of the plate, Mike Napoli paints a menacing picture. He just had a presence about him as Brian Duensing’s fifth pitch came in, and he got his bat around on the sinker to drive it into right field.

You can’t say enough about how different this Red Sox team looks from some recent renditions. When these guys are on, they have control of their at-bats, and it’s just a question of where they’ll poke the ball. Even with all the troubles Boston has had tonight, they’re ready to steal this game.

Napoli’s contact brought in Shane Victorino, who had advanced to third on a David Ortiz double play that erased the other runners. That closed the book on Vance Worley, who gets marked for nine hits, three earned runs and three strikeouts. He was getting better results than Clay Buchholz for much of the night, but the two pretty much evened out in the end.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out on a big 3-2 swing to end the inning.

9:21 p.m.: The Twins are bringing in left-hander Brian Duensing. Vance Worley threw 89 pitches and will get the hook with two men on base and David Ortiz at the plate. Worley gave up two earned runs on nine hits through five innings. His line isn’t yet complete, with Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia on base.

Victorino is having one of the nicer nights of all the Red Sox. He recorded his third hit in three tries with a single to lead off the inning. Boston has tallied eight hits at this point, which is one more than the Twins, even though it doesn’t seem like it. Minnesota, of course, did most of its damage on its four early doubles.

Dustin Pedroia singled through left-hand side.

The Twins were also warming up right-hander Casey Fien but elected to go with Duensing against Ortiz.

Mid 6th, Twins 4-2: Clay Buchholz came back out to try to help a little more, and he really gave his team a hand.

Rather than having to call in a reliever to grab a few outs, Buchholz mowed down Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks and Pedro Florimon. That’s 116 pitches for him, but those last 12 were certainly worth the effort in keeping the bullpen rested a bit more.

End 5th, Twins 4-2: The Red Sox leave the bottom of the fifth with just one run, but the team saw good offense for the first time tonight, so the Sox have to be happy with that. The inning ended on a tag at home plate as Stephen Drew tried to score on a Jacoby Ellsbury double and instead was called out. Boston did get one run in the frame, though, courtesy of Drew.

Just when the Red Sox looked like they didn’t have anything going offensively, a couple of guys came through. One of the nice things about the Red Sox’ lineup this year is that, rather than having a few really strong players and then a few that are still trying to prove themselves in the big leagues, they have a decent, talented roster throughout. There’s no reason why the No. 9 guy won’t produce as much as someone farther up in the order (unless, of course, the No. 9 guy is going through one of those slumps that quite a few Red Sox are going through right now).

Drew, batting just .191 coming into this game, may be one of those guys, but he did his part in the bottom of the fifth. After Daniel Nava led off with a big double off the top chunk of the Green Monster, the Red Sox appeared to be doomed when both Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Will Middlebrooks struck out. (Middlebrooks looked particularly overmatched in his final fan.)

Drew, however, got around on a pitch that he dropped into center field, scoring Nava. Ellsbury worked the next count to 3-1 then ripped a double of his own to right-center.

That pitch was so well-struck that Drew thought he could scoot home, but the throw to Joe Mauer made it, and Drew was ruled out on an interesting leaping tag where Mauer collected the ball and almost landed on top of Drew as he tagged him out.

Mid 5th, Twins 4-1: Clay Buchholz has had to work in ways tonight that he hasn’t had to all season. While he’s struck out eight, tonight has been his worst outing of the season by far. He’s given up seven hits for four earned runs, and his pitch count is at 104 after another wobbly inning.

Joe Mauer started it with a ground-rule double, and Josh Willingham followed that with a hard-hit liner over second base. Dustin Pedroia lunged at the ball and just about knocked it down, but it was smoked hard enough that Pedroia would have had to have been perfectly in place to intercept it.

Pedroia’s placement did keep Mauer from scoring on the shot, but a Justin Morneau fly to left took care of getting Mauer home on the next play.

Buchholz got to work on his infield skills, which the Red Sox’ pitchers have been practicing all season, on the next play, getting Chris Parmelee on a grounder. He then got Trevor Plouffe to pop one up on the first base line, but Mike Napoli couldn’t reel in the tall shot as three Sox converged on the ball. Napoli was given an error on the play, just the second on the season for the catcher-turned-first baseman who has looked like a natural at the corner bag.

Trevor Plouffe got some serious wood on the fifth pitch of the next at-bat, but Jacoby Ellsbury had the speed to track his blast down in center field, catching the fly on the run to end the inning.

That’s likely it for Buchholz, who has really labored tonight. The bullpen, which manager John Farrell was so happy to see freshly stocked with the arrival of Craig Breslow, is due to try to keep Minnesota off the board the rest of the way.

End 4th, Twins 3-1: Shane Victorino is back, and the Red Sox are on the board.

Victorino snagged his first home run of the season leading off the bottom of the fourth, clubbing a 3-2 pitch down the right field line. The ball floated nicely and looked ready to drop for a hit, but with that short porch, Victorino got the bonus homer when it fell just to the left of Pesky’s Pole. That’s about as economical as a home run can be in this park.

Victorino looked to ignite a rally of sorts, with Dustin Pedroia depositing the first pitch he saw into center field. David Ortiz grounded into a double play, though, and Mike Napoli grounded out to end the inning.

Vance Worley has used 53 pitches to get through four innings. He could stay out here for a while.

Mid 4th, Twins 3-0: The Twins have found a way to Clay Buchholz again, with doubles once again doing the damage.

Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks both ripped doubles that scooted down the right field line. Both batters were pretty lucky to get wood on the pitches — the shots were less hard hits than pulls that squeaked past the infield and into the part of the park where Shane Victorino had to give chase.

Nevertheless, they got the work done, plating a run.

Buchholz looked strong throughout the inning, even with the two sharp shots. He started it off by striking out Trevor Plouffe then got Pedro Florimon on strikes after Arcia and Hicks got on base.

Stephen Drew cleaned up a Brian Dozier grounder at short to end the inning.

End 3rd, Twins 2-0: The Red Sox had offensive troubles coming into this one, and they’ve continued.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia knocked a double off the wall to start the frame, but none of his teammates could get him home. Will Middlebrooks, Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury — who tried his best to beat out a throw to first — went down in order to squash a scoring opportunity.

Does Vance Worley know something we don’t? He looks completely in charge of this game.

Mid 3rd, Twins 2-0: With all this hullabaloo about spitters and movement on fastballs, it can’t be forgotten that Clay Buchholz still has a pretty nice changeup. That pitch has been doing some work for him tonight.

Buchholz and Justin Morneau battled for seven pitches, with Buchholz relying on location to work the count before catching Morneau on a deep-striding swing for a changeup strikeout.

Buchholz is just striking out a ton of batters this year — about three more a game than his previous season high (or twice as many as any other season, by a rough count). This game is no exception. With six strikeouts through three innings, Buchholz could challenge his season-high of 11, even if he’s allowed the most earned runs of any start this year.

Josh Willingham flew out to start the inning, and Chris Parmelee struck out to end it.

End 2nd, Twins 2-0: David Ortiz is cranking, but he’s not quite cranking far enough. Ortiz lifted a fly to center field to start the inning that had the crowd going, but it fell harmlessly into Aaron Hicks’ glove. Still, looking at Ortiz’s stat line as he came to the plate is just fun: .440, 4 HR, 17 RBI. This guy is playing his 14th game, remember.

Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava were both easily retired to keep Boston off the board through two innings.

Mid 2nd, Twins 2-0: Clay Buchholz looked a lot better that inning.

He struck out Pedro Florimon and Brian Dozier and then got Joe Mauer on an infield hopper.

Buchholz has thrown 46 pitches so far, but his economic approach to that frame could set him up to salvage what has been his worst start of the season so far. He has four strikeouts already.

End 1st, Twins 2-0: Dustin Pedroia’s struggles continue. The second baseman, who managed just a weak single to break a 14-at-bat hitless streak Sunday, bounced into a double play to make this a fast inning for the Sox.

Boston got a man aboard on Shane Victorino’s tall fly, which dropped over second. He followed a groundout from Jacoby Ellsbury.

Don’t forget to hop over and see how the B’s are doing tonight.

Mid 1st, Twins 2-0: Well, that’s not how most people were drawing this one up to start.

Clay Buchholz has looked off his mark since just about the first pitch, and the Twins are taking advantage of his offerings. While the righty did dig deep and get himself out of a bases-load jam, the Minnesota hitters aren’t have any trouble getting cuts on his pitches, and they’ve been aggressive.

Josh Willingham and Joe Mauer both smacked deep doubles off the wall in left field to start the inning, and a sharp Justin Morneau blast through the hole between short and second scored another Twins run.

Morneau and Mauer both come into tonight’s contest with strong lines against Buchholz, and Morneau has been especially good against the Sox, batting .342 in his career.

Buchholz got into even more trouble with the next part of the order. He walked Chris Parmelee then got into a prolonged plate battle with Trevor Plouffe, who broke a bat fouling off a pitch before drawing a walk of his own. With the bases loaded, Buchholz worked down Oswaldo Arcia on eight pitches before getting him on a huge swing for the strikeout. Aaron Hicks then struck out on three pitches to kill the rally and get Buchholz out of the inning with only two runs across.

For what it’s worth, I don’t see Buchholz’s pitches dancing around that much. It looks a lot like good fastball placement and swings-and-misses from here. Take from that what you will.

7:11 p.m.: First pitch! It’s a sorta chilly night at Fenway Park. Nothing to complain about, but with the sun going down, it’s definitely not warm.

6:05 p.m.: The big story of tonight is going to be Clay Buchholz, no matter what he does.

Rarely do we get to use a cliche to its most literal measure, but Buchholz’s every move will be watched tonight. Whether he douses his head with water, licks his fingers, twists his hand around the ball in a funny way or wipes rosin on his shirt, bum or scalp, everyone is going to be watching after he was accused of doctoring the ball in Toronto.

David Schoenfield of ESPN.com has some interesting statistical analysis on the matter, comparing the movement on Buchholz’s pitches. (Note that from 2012 to 2013, the movement has been largely the same, but whatever was going on against the Blue Jays was quite different, according to Schoenfield.)

Dirk Hayhurst is also back on the case, and he’s saying that somebody is going to have to break some of those these-are-the-rules-but-nobody-ever-says-anything rules if Buchholz is going to get stopped.

Tonight could go one of three ways. One, Buchholz could come out and pitch a terrible game, and people could say it was because he changed something to try to hide illegal activity (or that he was just spooked by the accusations). Two, he could come out and pitch a great game with limited goop and gyro pitches, quieting the critics. Third, he could pitch a great game but have enough rosin and water flying around to get everyone upset. Twins manager Rod Gardenhire already sounds like he’s not going to be marching out there and asking Buchholz to change his shirt or anything, so it sounds like much of the drama will be in the eyes of the beholders off the field.

However it goes, know this: Any hopes that Buchholz was putting this behind him after one questioned game is likely wishful thinking.

5:12 p.m.: Well, it looks like we won’t have to wait until after the game for all of the Twins’ thoughts on the The Great Spitter Controversy of 2013. Twins manager Rod Gardenhire isn’t buying into the accusations, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports.

Gardenhire said that Buchholz has always had movement on his pitches.

5 p.m.: John Farrell was also asked about what the Toronto folks had to say about Clay Buchholz doctoring the ball, and whether the Twins would bring that up today. Farrell didn’t have much more than a shrug, and he again defended his pitcher.

“There’s nothing to be hidden — nothing to hide on Clay’s part,” Farrell said.

We may have to see what kind of evening Buchholz puts together before hearing what the Twins think.

4:25 p.m.: Manager John Farrell has confirmed that Andrew Bailey is on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his biceps. With Bailey already out for eight days, Farrell said he was optimistic that the reliever could return once the disabled-list stay was finished. The team has ruled out long-term damage, Farrell said.

Farrell said that Joel Hanrahan will assume the closer role, and he said the fact that Hanrahan is no longer dealing with physical or mental effects of his hamstring injury, for which he went on the 15-day DL,  bodes well for the team.

Craig Breslow takes Bailey’s spot on the roster. Breslow, a lefty, has been especially strong against left-handed batters, but Farrell wouldn’t pigeonhole him into that type of role just yet.

“He’s a guy that takes almost a starter’s approach to shorter outings,” Farrell said, adding that the Sox would hope to use him in situations where he could take care of righties as well.

Above all, Farrell said, it’s just nice to have a fresh arm. The Boston bullpen has been putting in extra time over recent days, with Kuji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa especially seeking their workloads stretched.

3:50 p.m.: Andrew Bailey has been dealing with soreness in his right biceps for the last week, and the Red Sox have opted to send him to the disabled list, according to reports. Left-hander Craig Breslow has been activated after spending much of the year rehabbing in Triple-A Pawtucket from an injury of his own.

3:25 p.m.: This is who the Red Sox and Twins will be sending onto the field tonight:

Red Sox

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Daniel Nava, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Stephen Drew, SS

Clay Buchholz, P

Twins

Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Josh Willingham, LF
Justin Morneau, 1B
Chris Parmelee, RF
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Oswaldo Arcia, DH
Aaron Hicks, CF
Pedro Florimon, SS

Vance Worley, P

11 a.m.: Let’s just wrap up those last three games in Texas like the leftover Chinese food on the counter and put them in a tightly tied trash bag for the curb. 7-0, 5-1 and 4-3 losses, as well as 14 strikeouts from Yu Darvish, left a funny feeling coming out of Sunday, and the weekend’s results aren’t going to smell any better today.

Instead, the Red Sox can turn to two standbys that have done them well this season. Playing at Fenway Park on Monday evening with Clay Buchholz on the mound, Boston (20-11) is set up to strengthen its 11-5 home record in a potential bounce-back four-game series against the woeful Minnesota Twins (13-14). The Twins are finishing a 10-game road trip in which they’ve gone 2-4.

While the Red Sox were hard to beat throughout April, they looked more like the team predicted to flounder coming into the season during their weekend sweep in Texas. They lost three games in a row for the first time this season against the Rangers and struggled to produce hits.

The Sox’ batters will likely have more opportunities against Minnesota’s Vance Worley (0-4, 7.22 ERA), who gave up six earned runs on 10 hits (three of them home runs) in his last start. But Boston’s real hope lies in Clay Buchholz (6-0, 1.01 ERA). The right-hander is not only one of the best in Major League Baseball this year, going seven innings in each of his starts, but he’s also coming off accusations in Toronto that he’s been doctoring his pitches. In his first start since effectively being called a cheater, Buchholz can prove his side of the argument with another dominant game.

Buchholz is 3-1 with a 4.25 ERA against the Twins in his career. He’s struck out 22 in his 29 2/3 innings pitched, but few Twins facing him Monday night have seen him for more than a few at-bats — except for Minnesota’s biggest trouble-makers, that is. Justin Morneau (.500) and Joe Mauer (.300) both have strong marks against Buchholz.

It all starts at 6 p.m. with Red Sox First Pitch, which will be offered, along with the game, on NESNplus as the Bruins take on the Maple Leafs over on NESN. (Get your channel listings here.) We’ll keep you up-to-date on news and analysis throughout the day, so be sure to check back here, with first pitch being fired at 7:10.