Final, Red Sox 5-1: It took a little longer than expected, but the Red Sox slapped a bow on their fifth straight victory following a lengthy rain delay.
The Twins put two runners on in the ninth inning, but Junichi Tazawa finished things off, and the Sox suddenly find themselves rolling as they head to Chicago for a three-game set with the White Sox.
John Lackey was excellent in his six innings of work on Sunday. He gave up just one hit while striking out five, and Minnesota’s only run was unearned. His outing ended when the game went into a three-hour rain delay in the seventh inning.
Will Middlebrooks and Dustin Pedroia each had two hits and went deep in the 5-1 victory, which put the finishing touches on a three-game sweep at Target Field.
Jon Lester will try to keep the Red Sox rolling on Monday. The game’s first pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. ET.
Good night, everyone.
Mid 9th, Red Sox 5-1: A strange day just keeps getting stranger.
The inning started in novelty fashion when Shane Victorino hit a ball right in front of his feet. It was in fair territory, but it seemed like it was chasing Victorino as he kept trying to dance around it en route to first base. Eventually, Joe Mauer came out from behind the plate, picked it up and fired to first, but it was a weird out, to say the least.
That was just the beginning, though.
Jonny Gomes walked with one out, and Dustin Pedroia followed up with a fly ball to left field. Josh Willingham ran back toward the wall and leaped, at which point the ball bounced off his glove, briefly rolled along the top of the outfield wall and then landed over the wall for a two-run home run. You can’t make this stuff up.
David Ortiz beat the shift with a single through the right side and Mike Napoli walked, essentially kicking off another threat with two outs. Jared Burton settled down and retired Daniel Nava and Will Middlebrooks to end the inning.
Junichi Tazawa will pitch the ninth inning for Boston.
End 8th, Red Sox 3-1: The Twins made a whole lot of noise against Koji Uehara in the eighth inning, but the righty struck out Joe Mauer with the bases loaded to end the major threat.
Uehara actually struck out the side in the inning, but he didn’t exactly take the easiest route in doing so.
Wilkin Ramirez led off the eighth with a double before Uehara picked up back-to-back strikeouts against Chris Parmelee and Josh Willingham. Willingham got ahead in the count and had the green light, but he came up empty on a huge 3-0 hack. Uehara then put him away on a fastball.
It didn’t get any easier, as Pedro Florimon walked and Jamey Carroll singled into left field to load the bases for Mauer. But Uehara managed to escape with the two-run lead still intact by fanning the Twins’ All-Star catcher on a splitter.
It’s been a tough night at the dish for Mauer, who has now struck out three times in his 0-for-4 effort.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 3-1: It looks — so far at least — like the pitchers are better equipped to handle the lengthy rain delay.
Brian Duensing was the first Twins pitcher to take the mound after the layoff, and he worked around a two-out walk to keep the Red Sox’ offense at bay.
Duensing started the inning off in impressive fashion, striking out Daniel Nava and Will Middlebrooks. Duensing went upstairs to get Nava, and he got Middlebrooks to wave at a slider.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia earned a seven-pitch walk after working the count full, but Duensing settled down to retire Pedro Ciriaco on a flyout to right field.
Koji Uehara will pitch the eighth inning for Boston.
End 7th, Red Sox 3-1: Andrew Miller started things up after the lengthy rain delay, and he cruised through the seventh inning.
Miller retired the Twins in order on a pair of groundouts and a strikeout.
Justin Morneau led off by bouncing one down to Mike Napoli, who flipped to Miller for the first out.
Miller then struck out Trevor Plouffe looking. The lefty got ahead of Plouffe 0-2, and eventually put him away with a nasty slider down in the zone on the fourth pitch of the at-bat.
The inning ended when Oswaldo Arcia grounded out to Will Middlebrooks at third base.
I’m not wearing a hat, but if I was, I’d tip it to the grounds crew. The current conditions aren’t ideal, but they did a good job of preparing the field quickly.
7:31 p.m., Red Sox 3-1: Andrew Miller takes the mound for Boston as we resume action at Target Field. Just so you’re up to speed, we’re looking at a 3-1 Red Sox lead in the bottom of the seventh inning.
7:19 p.m.: The estimated restart time is now 7:30 p.m. That’s five minutes later than originally expected, but at this point, who’s counting?
7:12 p.m.: Word on the street is that they’ll be starting things back up at 7:25 p.m.
You’ve got time to grab a beverage and a snack, but don’t take long. I’ll wait here.
7:09 p.m.: It looks like the tarp is coming off the field. I’m no expert, but that tells me we could have baseball relatively soon.
Stay tuned, and cross your fingers (it can’t hurt).
6:15 p.m.: It’s still very dark at the ballpark, and there is actually a tornado warning for parts of Minnesota until 9 p.m. For all of you scoring at home, that isn’t good baseball weather.
The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham tweeted that he’s hearing unofficially that the game is not getting called any time soon. That makes sense, as it’s only a two-run game despite the Red Sox seemingly being in control throughout.
The little tidbit also means that we could be in for a lengthy delay, so keep checking in. I’ll try to pass along as much information as possible.
6:05 p.m.: Fans at Target Field really lucked out, all things considered. It’s “Sandlot Day,” which marks the 20th anniversary of the movie The Sandlot.
The original plan was for the movie to be shown on the stadium’s big screen following the game, but they’ve been showing throughout the rain delay.
There are a lot worse ways to spend a rain delay, right?
4:32 p.m., Red Sox 3-1: It’s coming down in buckets at Target Field, and the tarp has been rolled out. We have ourselves a rain delay. Booooo.
The delay could mean the end of John Lackey’s outing, and he was fantastic in this game. The Twins’ only run was unearned, and Lackey only gave up one hit and hit a batter. He struck out five in six innings.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 3-1: Josh Roenicke has been very impressive since taking over for Pedro Hernandez.
Roenicke retired the side in order in the seventh inning, striking out two in the process. Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli sandwiched David Ortiz’s flyout with a pair of swinging strikeouts.
Roenicke has been perfect through 2 2/3 innings since coming on in relief.
End 6th, Red Sox 3-1: John Lackey didn’t let the fifth-inning unearned run get to him. He came back out and tossed a 1-2-3 sixth.
Lackey retired Pedro Florimon, Jamey Carroll and Joe Mauer in order.
Mauer struck out swinging on a cutter, which has been a very good pitch for Lackey in this game. Mauer has now struck out twice, and Lackey has five K’s total.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 3-1: Josh Roenicke made quick work of the Red Sox in the sixth inning.
Pedro Ciriaco and Jonny Gomes each popped out, and Shane Victorino grounded out back to the mound.
The bad weather is starting to roll in, and it doesn’t look good. It is getting darker and darker. Fortunately for the Red Sox, we’re through five complete innings.
For the record, this is the last time this season the Red Sox and Twins play.
End 5th, Red Sox 3-1: I don’t envy Chris Parmelee right about now.
John Lackey gave up a leadoff double to Trevor Plouffe after starting the game with four perfect innings. Clearly, the long layoff while the Red Sox were batting had an adverse effect on the right-hander.
Lackey then hit Oswaldo Arcia on the foot — at least that’s what the home plate umpire ruled — before striking out Wilkin Ramirez swinging. Lackey’s 0-2 pitch to Ramirez never really looked like a strike, but Ramirez chased it anyway.
Lackey nearly escaped the inning unscathed when Chris Parmelee grounded to second base. Dustin Pedroia tossed to second to try and start a double play, but Pedro Ciriaco’s throw to first was wide. It drilled Parmelee in an area no man wants to be hit, and the play allowed Plouffe to cross the plate with Minnesota’s first run.
After a brief injury delay, Aaron Hicks grounded out to second base to end the inning.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 3-0: The Red Sox had a chance for a monster inning, but Josh Roenicke saved the Twins.
Roenicke replaced Pedro Hernandez, who struggled through his start, and retired Will Middlebrooks and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to escape a bases-loaded jam with Boston only tallying one run in the inning.
Middlebrooks popped out to Jamey Carroll near first base, and Saltalamacchia grounded out softly to the mound.
Hernandez certainly owes Roenicke, as his pitching line could look a lot worse, if not for some clutch pitching.
3:52 p.m., Red Sox 3-0: Pedro Hernandez is doing all he can to pitch himself out of the Twins’ rotation.
Hernandez entered the game with a 2-0 record, but he’s stringing together some rather unimpressive outings. He gave up six runs on seven hits over two innings against the Red Sox on May 8, and he departs this game with the bases loaded and the Twins trailing 3-0.
Jonny Gomes grounded out to begin the fifth inning, but it was all downhill from there for Hernandez.
Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli hit three straight singles off the left-hander. Ortiz’s single sent Pedroia to third, and Napoli’s knock drove him in.
Hernandez’s day ended after Daniel Nava smacked a fly ball to center. Aaron Hicks ran back toward the warning track and almost made a nice over-the-shoulder catch, but the ball dropped in over his head. Both Ortiz and Napoli held up before advancing, thinking Hicks made the play, but that wasn’t the case. As a result, Nava only got a single out of it, and Ortiz and Napoli each moved up one station.
Josh Roenicke will take over with the bases loaded and one out.
End 4th, Red Sox, 2-0: John Lackey enjoyed another perfect inning in the fourth. Make it 12 in a row to begin the game for him.
Jamey Carroll and Justin Morneau each grounded out, and Joe Mauer flied out.
Lackey has thrown 51 pitches (31 strikes) through the first four innings. He’s been very efficient, and he’s working at a very brisk pace right now. That certainly bodes well, as some inclement weather is expected to roll through Target Field at some point.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-0: The Red Sox almost added to their lead, but they ended up stranding two runners.
Daniel Nava, who has had a very good series, led off the fourth inning with a single into center field.
Will Middlebrooks, who homered in his first at-bat, then hit a grounder to third. Trevor Plouffe, who made a costly throwing error in the third inning, looked to second, but he had no chance to throw out Nava, who was off on the 3-2 pitch. Plouffe instead tossed to first for the sure out.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia increased the threat by singling, which allowed Nava to move up to third base. The Red Sox’ offense faltered from there, though.
Pedro Ciriaco tried to drop down a bunt for a hit, and although Salty moved up to second base, Ciriaco was retired for the second out. Shane Victorino, who has reached base twice, hit a hard line drive with two outs, but Plouffe was quick on his feet and made a nice play to end the inning.
End 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: John Lackey had himself another 1-2-3 inning in the third. He’s now retired all nine hitters he’s faced.
Chris Parmelee flied out to center and Aaron Hicks grounded out to second before Lackey struck out Pedro Florimon swinging to end the inning.
Lackey has now capped off each of the first three innings with a K. He struck out Joe Mauer to end the first, Wilkin Ramirez to end the second and now Florimon to end the third. Lackey got Ramirez on a curveball low and out of the strike zone.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: The Twins are typically a pretty good defensive team, but a fielding miscue cost them in the third inning.
Shane Victorino put together another excellent at-bat with one out. He got ahead 3-1 against Twins starter Pedro Hernandez, took a strike, and then fouled off four straight pitches before laying off a changeup to earn a walk.
Victorino showed aggressiveness on the bases back in the first inning when he stole second, and he once again pushed the envelope in the third inning. Jonny Gomes singled into center field, and Victorino went from first to third.
That two-base advancement was big, as Victorino scored when third baseman Trevor Plouffe made a throwing error. Dustin Pedroia chopped to third with runners at the corners, and Plouffe immediately looked to start an inning-ending, 5-4-3 double play. His throw to second base sailed into right field, though, and Victorino crossed the plate with Boston’s second run.
Gomes ended up on third base, so the Red Sox had a chance to tack on to their lead, but Hernandez struck out David Ortiz and got Mike Napoli to fly out to end the inning.
End 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: John Lackey is working at a good pace, and he has retired the first six hitters he’s faced.
Lackey sat down Trevor Plouffe, Oswaldo Arcia and Wilkin Ramirez in order in the second inning. Plouffe flied out, Arcia grounded out and Ramirez struck out.
Lackey fanned Ramirez with a 2-2 fastball to pick up his second strikeout. Ramirez actually lost his grip on the bat, and the lumber went flying into the seats. Hopefully everyone is OK down the third-base line.
Mid 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Will Middlebrooks seems to be at his best when he’s going to the opposite field with power. He did that in the second inning, and the Red Sox have jumped out to a 1-0 lead.
Pedro Hernandez got two quick outs in the second, as both Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava grounded out to shortstop Pedro Florimon. Middlebrooks wasn’t as easy to retire, though.
Hernandez went with all offspeed stuff to Middlebrooks, who played the role of hero on Thursday night in Tampa. Middlebrooks laid off a couple of changeups before getting one to drive on the outer half of the plate.
Middlebrooks is going the other way a lot more frequently of late, and his numbers are starting to improve as a result. Even some of his outs have been rather loud lately.
End 1st, 0-0: John Lackey is off to a nice start.
Jamey Carroll led off the first inning with a little blooper into center field. Shane Victorino, playing center in Jacoby Ellsbury’s absence, came on to make the play.
Lackey then struck out Joe Mauer on a foul tip into the mitt. Lackey went with a heavy dose of fastballs and utilized the cutter to pick up the K.
Justin Morneau grounded into the shift with two outs. There was some brief confusion, but Dustin Pedroia made the play at second base and fired to first to end the inning.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Shane Victorino looked like a natural leadoff guy in the first inning.
Victorino, batting leadoff while Jacoby Ellsbury gets a day off, lined a two-strike changeup into right field for a base hit. He then stole second base after Jonny Gomes and Dustin Pedroia each flied out.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, David Ortiz, who had a huge game on Saturday, couldn’t keep things rolling in his first at-bat. He grounded softly back to the mound to end the inning.
If Victorino looks comfortable hitting leadoff, it’s because he’s no stranger to that position atop the order. He led off in 31 games last season, and he’s now led off in 209 games in his career.
2:14 p.m.: The game’s first pitch is a called strike. Let’s go…
1:58 p.m.: The Red Sox certainly hope to get more out of starter John Lackey in this game than they got out of Ryan Dempster on Saturday, but Boston’s bullpen has pitched very well of late.
When the discussion comes up about areas of need, the Red Sox’ bullpen is generally the focal point, especially now that Joel Hanrahan is done for the season. The ‘pen has been solid this season, though, and it has really held its own during this four-game winning streak.
Three Red Sox relievers combined for 4 1/3 scoreless innings on Saturday, and the bullpen has kept the Twins scoreless for 7 1/3 innings through the first two games of the series.
Boston’s bullpen pen has a 0.53 ERA (one earned run in 17 innings) in the last five games and an AL-high 101 strikeouts since April 17.
1:30 p.m.: The Red Sox-Twins game will air live on NESN, but it’s hardly the only Boston sporting event on Sunday. For those looking to follow some playoff hockey, I highly encourage you to check out NESN.com’s Bruins live blog. Click the link below, and our own Mike Cole will explain the rest.
1:05 p.m.: Jacoby Ellsbury will finally get his day off.
Ellsbury, who has played in every game this season, was scheduled to have Saturday night off, but Shane Victorino’s absence because of a back issue meant Ellsbury needed to remain in the Red Sox’ lineup. Victorino will return on Sunday, and he’ll play center field and lead off for the first time this season while Ellsbury sits.
Stephen Drew, who was banged up while diving head first into second base on Friday, will be out of the lineup for a second straight game. That means Pedro Ciriaco will play shortstop in his place and bat ninth.
The rest of Sunday’s lineups are below.
Red Sox (26-17)
Shane Victorino, CF
Jonny Gomes, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Daniel Nava, RF
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Pedro Ciriaco, SS
John Lackey, RHP (1-4, 4.05 ERA)
Jamey Carroll, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Oswaldo Arcia, DH
Wilkin Ramirez, LF
Chris Parmelee, RF
Aaron Hicks, CF
Pedro Florimon, SS
Pedro Hernandez, LHP (2-0, 5.79 ERA)
8 a.m. ET: Saturday’s win was, in many ways, symbolic of the Red Sox’ season. When someone else falters, the rest of the team is there to pick him up.
On Saturday, it was Ryan Dempster who didn’t turn in his best effort. The right-hander lasted just 4 2/3 innings, surrendering five runs on a season-high eight hits and six walks. He ultimately received a no-decision because of his inability to close out the fifth inning, but the Red Sox still emerged victorious because of a huge game by the offense, particularly David Ortiz.
Ortiz, who got off to a slow start in May (much like the Red Sox as a whole), hit a pair of home runs and racked up six RBIs as part of Boston’s 12-run, 13-hit attack. It marked the second straight game he’s reached base safely four times, and it’s hard to imagine he ever went through an 0-for-17 slump earlier this month, just as it’s suddenly hard to believe the Red Sox lost nine of 12 before winning their last four games.
John Lackey will toe the rubber in the series finale in Minnesota, and he’ll look to extend Boston’s winning streak to five games. Lackey gave up a season-high five runs in his last start on Tuesday, so he’ll be looking to bounce back against a pesky Twins team in this one.
Sunday’s first pitch is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. Tune in on NESN, and keep it right here with NESN.com for an all-around good time.