“We feel like we’re always one swing away from coming back in a game.”
That’s what Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora said during NESN’s postgame coverage Friday night, and boy, was he right.
With the game tied at three in the 10th inning, Mookie Betts launched a walk-off home run into the Green Monster to give the Boston Red Sox a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park. The home run also marked the first walk-off home run of Betts’ career.
“He’s been great, all around doing a good job, ” Cora said after the game. “When he think he’s struggling, he’s not actually struggling … he’s one swing away from getting back to get hot and he showed it tonight.”
He certainly did. The star outfielder was 0-for-3 entering the 10th, but Betts made one swing count, and that one swing gave the Red Sox their 73rd win of the season.
After the game, he had a simple message for Red Sox fans:
“The Fenway Faithful, I love you guys,” he told NESN’s Tom Caron after the game.
Here are some other notes from Friday’s Red Sox-Twins game:
— Chris Sale was brilliant, tossing six scoreless innings giving up three hits, two walks and striking out 10. This is the 10th time he’s struck out double-digit batters in a start.
The hard-throwing righty also reached a milestone Friday. He collected his 200th strikeout of the season in the first inning when he got Mitch Gaver to strike out. In doing so, he became the first pitcher to reach the 200 mark this season, and needed just 136 innings to reach the milestone, the fewest in American League history. He beat out the 2017 record of 141 1/3 innings that was held by … you guessed it, Sale.
“Good again, he’s been great,” Cora said after the game. “That (fourth inning) bases-loaded at-bat, he made some good pitches, but then he put him away.
“Six innings, same deal. We expect that out of him,” the skipper added. “Which is sometimes not fair, it’s kind of like we take him for granted but no we don’t. We know how hard he works and how tough it is because everybody gets up for Chris Sale.”
— Craig Kimbrel blew his third save of the season, and his first since May 9, when Eddie Rosario laced a two-out, two-run double off the Green Monster to give the Twins a 3-2 lead in the ninth.
The righty gave up two walks, which proved costly in the end. Cora elected to use the closer for a four-out save, despite Matt Barnes pitching well in the eighth inning.
“We were talking about four outs already, regardless of the situation so that’s why he came in,” Cora said.
— Rafael Devers provided the tying home run in the ninth after going hitless up until that point.
— Steve Pearce started a stellar double play to end the seventh inning while the Twins had runners on the corners. And while he could have thrown the ball home, he trusted he could turn two.
“Some first basemen, they panic on that one and they catch the ball and they go to the plate and bad things happen,” Cora said. “He felt he was gonna be able to turn a double play and they did.”
— With the New York Yankees getting their Friday night game against the Kansas City Royals postponed due to inclement weather, the Red Sox widen their lead in the AL East to five games.