Red Sox-Twins Live: Sox Get Sloppy in Eighth, Drop 6-1 Decision to Minnesota

Ryan Dempster

Final, Twins 6-1: The Boston bats finally showed some life in the ninth, but it was far too little, far too late.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia led off the inning with a home run, sending Josh Roenicke’s pitch into the Monster seats. Jacoby Ellsbury then reached on a hit-by-pitch, but Shane Victorino followed by grounding into a 3-6-3 double play.

A Dustin Pedroia walk put a man on for David Ortiz, but Big Papi lined out to center to end the game.

The eighth inning doomed the Red Sox, as three errors and a shaky season debut by reliever Craig Breslow allowed Minnesota to plate four of its six runs. The Sox will be most concerned about what took place in the fifth inning, though, as David Ross and Will Middlebrooks collided while going after a foul ball down the third base line.

Both left the game with injury — though Middlebrooks played another inning before departing — and will be evaluated further after the game.

The teams are back at it tomorrow night, with game time scheduled for 7:10 p.m. at Fenway.

Mid 9th, Twins 6-0: Wilson issues a walk to Joe Mauer but is otherwise solid, and the Sox now have a large hole to dig themselves out of in the bottom of the ninth.

Josh Roenicke starts his second inning for Minnesota, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia — who struck out in his only plate appearance tonight — and the top of the order due up for Boston.

End 8th, Twins 6-0: Nothing doing once again for the Sox, and we head to the ninth. Boston has not had a baserunner since Stephen Drew singled in the bottom of the third.

Alex Wilson returns to face Brian Dozier in the top of the ninth.

Mid 8th, Twins 6-0: Well, that was certainly not the debut Craig Breslow was looking for. The southpaw allowed a double, two singles and a walk and failed to retire a batter before being lifted in favor of Alex Wilson.

Wilson has a 1.86 ERA through nine appearances this season.

He was almost able to work a much-needed 3-2-3 double play on the first batter he faced, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s throw back to Mike Napoli was too low, allowing Justin Morneau to score from third on the throwing error.

That sequence was followed by an extensive argument by manager John Farrell, who nearly got himself tossed. Home plate umpire Jeff Nelson wouldn’t bite, but Wilson retired Aaron Hicks on a lineout to shortstop to mercifully end the inning.

Josh Roenicke comes on to pitch for Minnesota, ending Scott Diamond’s very solid outing. The lefty threw 96 pitches, allowing three hits, no walks and no runs over seven innings.

Top 8th, Twins 3-0: There’s a sequence Pedro Ciriaco would like to forget. Ciriaco, who replaced the injured Will Middlebrooks at third base last inning, made errors on two consecutive plays to put runners on first and third with no outs.

Ryan Dempster’s night is now over, as left-hander Craig Breslow comes on for his first action of the season. Breslow, a Connecticut native, was activated off the disabled list yesterday. He was 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 23 appearances for the Sox last season.

It didn’t take long for the Twins to capitalize off Breslow, as Joe Mauer ripped the second pitch he saw down the third base line for an RBI double, giving Minnesota a 3-0 lead.

End 7th, Twins 2-0: The heart of the Red Sox order goes down in succession, increasing Scott Diamond’s consecutive outs streak to 12.

This has easily been the best outing of the season for the young left-hander, who did not make it out of the sixth inning in any of his first five starts.

The team has given updates on both Will Middlebrooks and David Ross. Ross’ injury is being referred to as a “left quad contusion” while Middlebrooks left the game with “right side pain.”

Mid 7th, Twins 2-0: It felt like Gillette Stadium here at Fenway for a few minutes as the umpires retired to the video room to determine whether Ryan Doumit’s home run was indeed a home run. It was, and it gave the Twins their largest lead of the night.

Doumit has provided just about all of the offense in tonight’s game. He doubled and came home with Minnesota’s first run in the fifth and sent Ryan Dempster’s 2-2 offering over the Green Monster for a solo homer in the seventh.

Dempster retired the other three batters he faced in the inning. He struck out Trevor Plouffe for the first out — his eighth K of the night — and got Chris Parmelee and Wilkin Ramirez to ground out and fly out, respectively, after allowing Doumit’s bomb.

The Twins make a defensive change as the last chords of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” ring out, replacing Ramirez in center field with highly touted prospect Aaron Hicks.

End 6th, Twins 1-0: After Ryan Dempster puts the Twins down in order in the top of the sixth, Scott Diamond follows suit in the bottom half.

Diamond opened the frame by striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was making his first plate appearance after replacing David Ross behind the plate. Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino then flew out on consecutive pitches and this game is humming right along.

Dempster returns for the seventh but third baseman Will Middlebrooks does not. Middlebrooks appeared to be fine after colliding with Ross in the top of the fifth, but Pedro Ciriaco has taken his place at third base. The catcher-heavy Red Sox are well-equipped to withstand an injury to Ross, but they are not nearly as deep at third.

End 5th, Twins 1-0: The Red Sox get nothing again in the fifth, and Scott Diamond has now retired nine consecutive hitters.

Jonny Gomes opened the inning with a fly out to left field, Will Middlebrooks grounded out to second baseman and Stephen Drew left the base path while trying to evade the tag of first baseman Justin Morneau (not that it mattered too much; Morneau appeared to catch Drew’s shoulder as he ran by).

Ryan Dempster is back out for the sixth, with 76 pitches under his belt tonight.

Mid 5th, Twins 1-0: We just saw a potentially scary scene of our own here at Fenway, as Will Middlebrooks and David Ross collided with one another while sliding for a foul ball along near the Minnesota dugout. Ross’ knee appeared to make contact with Middlebrooks’ ribs, slamming the third baseman’s back against the wall.

Middlebrooks caught the ball, but both appeared to be shaken up on the play. Ross, who seemed to be favoring his left leg, remained in the game for one more batter before being replaced by Jarrod Saltalamacchia. We’ll be sure to update you with his condition as more information becomes available.

As for the change on the scoreboard, the Twins plated the first run of the game in the inning to take a 1-0 lead. Catcher Ryan Doumit led off with a double to right-center field that fell just out of the reach of a lunging Shane Victorino. Ryan Dempster then balked, allowing Doumit to advance to third, and after Middlebrooks retired Chris Parmelee with his catch in foul ground, Wilkin Ramirez singled to bring Doumit home.

Dempster then struck out both Brian Dozier and Jamey Carroll to end the inning.

End 4th, 0-0: The Red Sox still can’t seem to muster any offense against Scott Diamond, as the southpaw retires Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli in order on a pair of groundouts and a weak popup.

We’re getting word in the press box of a scary scene down in Tampa Bay, where Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ apparently needed to be taken off the field on a stretcher after being hit in the head with a line drive. Those who have been cheering for the Red Sox for long enough remember Matt Clement and Brice Florie suffering similar injuries, so we’re all together in wishing Happ a speedy recovery.

Mid 4th, 0-0: Ryan Dempster ran into a bit of trouble in the fourth, but a well-timed double play allowed him to escape unscathed.

Joe Mauer singled to open the inning and an ensuing walk by Josh Willingham put a runner in scoring position for the first time tonight. But Justin Morneau grounded a Dempster splitter right back to the mound, the pitcher fired to second to retire Willingham and Stephen Drew threw to first to complete the twin killing.

Mauer advanced to third on the play, but Dempster got Trevor Plouffe to ground out to Will Middlebrooks to end the inning.

We are headed to the bottom of the fourth with the scoreboard still showing nothing but goose eggs.

End 3rd, 0-0: Apparently only the first batter of an inning is allowed to reach base tonight.

That happened to the Red Sox for the third time tonight, as Stephen Drew’s single to lead off the frame was followed by two weak popups and a groundout to first base, keeping this game knotted at 0-0.

Like we mentioned earlier, Drew has come into his own of late — highlighted by a monster performance Monday night — and has now reached base in 13 consecutive games, hitting in 10 of those.

Mid 3rd, 0-0: Three up, three down as Ryan Dempster tosses his second 1-2-3 inning of the night.

The ball never left the infield as Dempster needed 12 pitches to dispatch Wilkin Ramirez, Brian Dozier and Jamey Carroll. Ramirez and Carroll sandwiched groundouts to second baseman Dustin Pedroia around a Dozier strikeout — Dempster’s fourth of the night.

Red Sox great Carlton Fisk is in the house tonight, and the former catcher and World Series hero drew a nice ovation from the Fenway faithful when his face popped up on the Jumbotron.

Stephen Drew, David Ross and the top of the order are due up against Scott Diamond in the bottom of the third.

End 2nd, 0-0: Wasn’t David Ortiz’s career supposed to be on its last legs? He just missed close to nine months with that Achilles injury, right?

Well, the big man continues to prove that he has no desire to pack it up anytime soon. Ortiz singled to left field in the second inning, extending his hitting streak to a career-long 27 games, including all 15 games he has played this season.

Big Papi has been on an absolute tear since returning to the lineup on April 20, compiling a .436/.467/.818 slash line with four home runs and 17 RBIs.

The Sox went down in order after Ortiz reached, though, with Mike Napoli grounding out to pitcher Scott Diamond for a fielder’s choice, Jonny Gomes flying out to right field and Will Middlebrooks going down swinging.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: Justin Morneau gives the Twins their first baserunner of the night with a single up the middle, but he fails to advance past first as Ryan Dempster retires the next three batters in order.

Trevor Plouffe and Ryan Doumit both skied fly balls that were easily caught by Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes, respectively, and Chris Parmelee went down swinging for Dempster’s third K of the night.

Efficiency will be key for Dempster in the first few innings tonight, as the veteran has had a tendency to rack up high pitch counts early in his outings this season. He’s up to 32 throws already tonight, thanks to lengthy at-bats to Morneau and Parmelee.

This is especially important now with Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan both unavailable and the team’s relief corps strained as it is. As John Farrell mentioned in his pregame press conference, he would prefer not to go to his bullpen prior to the eighth inning if he doesn’t need to.

End 1st, 0-0: Speedy Jacoby Ellsbury beat out an infield single in Boston’s first at-bat of the night, but that’s all the Red Sox would get in the bottom of the first.

Ellsbury’s sharp ground ball was fielded by shortstop Jamey Carroll in the hole, but Carroll was unable to recover in time to nab the leadoff man at first.

Shane Victorino then popped out to shallow center field and Dustin Pedroia, who jacked his first home run of the season last night, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to sent the Sox back to the dugout empty handed.

Mid 1st, 0-0: Ryan Dempster retires the side in order in very Dempster-like fashion.

Dempster got the blood pumping early, sprinting over to first base to receive Mike Napoli’s underhand flip and retire Jamey Carroll for the game’s first out. He then proceeded to strike out both Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham to end the inning. Dempster struck out just four Houston Astros in his last start, but that total was well below his season average of 7.83 K’s per outing.

Let’s tackle another quick pitching point while it’s still early in this contest. We likely won’t see the effect of this until later on tonight, but Joel Hanrahan was placed on the disabled list for the second time this season earlier today, with manager John Farrell bestowing closing duties upon setup man Junichi Tazawa. Felix Doubront has also been shifted temporarily into the bullpen, so we could see him in a long relief-type role should Dempster run into trouble early on.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia are due up first against Twins lefty Scott Diamond.

7:10 p.m.: Jamey Carroll takes strike one from Ryan Dempster and we are underway at Fenway.

The Red Sox are sporting their usual home whites while the Twins take the field in their blue “road alternate” uniforms with “Minnesota” stitched across the chest.

Let’s play some baseball.

6:30 p.m.: It seems like just yesterday that the Twins were a perennial playoff team, but the boys from the Land of 10,000 Lakes have fallen on hard times in recent years.

Minnesota has flirted with 100 losses each of the last two season, and at 13-15 thus far, the Twins come into tonight ranked fourth in the five-team AL Central. They have won their division six times in the last 11 years but haven’t won a postseason game since 2004 and a playoff series since 2002.

Tonight they’ll send a starter to the mound in Scott Diamond that the Red Sox have just about zero experience against. Boston’s entire roster has combined for just five at-bats against the left-hander (two by Jonny Gomes and three by Shane Victorino) with none resulting in hits. Minnesota has seen Sox starter Ryan Dempster quite a bit more, with leadoff man Jamey Carroll (.429 lifetime average vs. Dempster) and cleanup hitter Justin Morneau (.500, one home run) enjoying the most success.

Pregame activities are set to begin shortly.

5 p.m.: The Red Sox pitching staff has received a sizable shakeup this week (we’ll get to that in a bit) but the rest of Boston’s lineup remains largely the same.

Stephen Drew was the hero of last night’s 11-inning affair, and the shortstop appears to have finally shaken off the brutal slump that plagued the first few weeks of his season. Drew couldn’t buy a base hit in April, hitting .119 through his first 13 games after missing more than a month with a concussion.

He has found his stroke of late, though, reaching safely in each of his last eight games. That hot streak culminated in a 4-for-5 effort Monday night in which Drew tied the game with a home run in the seventh and won it with an RBI double off the Green Monster in the bottom of the 11th, snapping Boston’s three-game losing streak and raising his own average by more than 40 points.

Minnesota’s offensive attack still runs through the two M’s (catcher Joe Mauer and  first baseman Justin Morneau), as it has for years now. Both have played a team-leading 27 games this season, with Mauer leading the Twins in average (.291) and hits (32) and Morneau, batting out of the cleanup spot, totaling a team-best 17 RBIs.

Leading the Twins in an offensive category has been akin to being the best player on a JV team this season, though. Minnesota ranks in the bottom three in the American League in nearly every offensive category, including last in hits (226) and second-to-last in runs (116).

Here are the full starting lineups for both teams:

Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jonny Gomes, LF
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Stephen Drew, SS
David Ross, C

Ryan Dempster, P

Twins
Jamey Carroll, SS
Joe Mauer, DH
Josh Willingham, LF
Justin Morneau, 1B
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Ryan Doumit, C
Chris Parmelee, RF
Wilkin Ramirez, CF
Brian Dozier, 2B

Scott Diamond, P

8 a.m. ET: It took nearly five hours on Monday night, but the Red Sox finally put away the Twins in 11 innings, snapping a three-game losing skid on Stephen Drew’s walk-off double off the Green Monster.

The two teams are back at it again Tuesday, when Ryan Dempster takes the hill opposite Minnesota lefty Scott Diamond. After a bit of a shaky start to the season, Dempster has settled down in his first year with Boston. The right-hander won his last two starts (albeit against two weaker opponents in Houston and Toronto), and he has been a strikeout machine, averaging 7.83 K’s per start.

Monday’s drawn-out affair almost threw a wrench into Red Sox manager John Farrell’s pitching plans, as Dempster made the jog out to the — extremely depleted — bullpen and began warming up as the game entered extra innings.

Dempster will be matched by a fellow Canadian on Tuesday, as Diamond spent his formative years in Ontario. The southpaw is 2-2 with a 3.97 ERA through his first four starts.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. from Fenway Park, but be sure to check back in throughout the day for all your updates and analysis leading up to game time.

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