BOSTON — The Fenway Park fire alarm sounded as the bottom of the 10th inning began, filling the ballpark’s concourses with flashing lights and a high-pitched, highly obnoxious ringing.
It must have been enough to finally rouse the Boston Red Sox’s offense from its slumber.
Through nine innings Wednesday afternoon, the Red Sox’s bats looked dead asleep, having been completely neutralized by Minnesota Twins starter Kyle Gibson and the first two arms out of the Minnesota bullpen. The Sox had managed just one hit — a Daniel Nava double in the fifth — and three total baserunners, and just four of their first 21 balls put into play reached the outfield.
But after Twins right fielder Chris Parmelee broke a scoreless tie in the top of the 10th with a rare home run off Red Sox closer Koji Uehara, Boston finally began to show signs of life. The meat of the order was due up in the bottom of the frame, and after Dustin Pedroia flied out to the warning track, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli proceeded to take Twins reliever Casey Fien deep in consecutive at-bats, giving the Red Sox a 2-1 win and three-game series sweep.
It was the first time the Red Sox have walked off with back-to-back home runs since June 14, 1999, when Darren Lewis and Jeff Frye accomplished the same feat in another win over the Twins.
“David comes up big once again,” manager John Farrell said after the game. “He’d been pulling off some balls. He stayed on a pitch from Fein and just hooks one inside the foul pole. I can’t tell you the last time we went back-to-back; it’s been a while, but it couldn’t have been better timing. David’s home run gives us a huge lift just to knot it at one, and Nap gets a fastball up on the plate. A good way to finish a well-pitched three-game series here.”
Calling the series well-pitched is almost an understatement. The teams combined for a total of seven runs over the three contests, and the five runs scored by the Red Sox were the fewest in a sweep of three or more games in team history, according to Elias Sports Bureau. John Lackey was brilliant on the mound for the Sox in the finale, keeping the Twins off the scoreboard over a season-high nine innings, scattering three hits and issuing his lone walk to the second-to-last batter he faced.
“Our pitching’s been unbelievable,” Napoli said. “Especially (Wednesday), Lack going nine shutout innings. We didn’t do anything (offensively). We got one hit. It was nice to pick up Koji, got a win, got a series sweep. We’re just worried about winning any way we can. So today was a nice day for us. We’re going to try to keep it going.”
The formula has been different for the Red Sox this season. They’re no longer pounding teams into submission with a top-ranked offense. With Fenway Park playing host to far more pitchers’ duels than it did in 2013, the team is doing its best to adjust.
“We’re playing the most one-run games in the major leagues,” Farrell said, “so this isn’t new to us by any means. I will say that the guys that walk to the mound, they know that their execution and consistency is key; it’s critical. But these one-run games, we’re not trying to come out there by design. We’re grinding away.”