On Tuesday, the Red Sox had to overcome a tough run by the bullpen in order to edge an 11-9 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Wednesday was quite the opposite as the Boston bullpen inherited a 4-0 scoreline from starter Nick Pivetta, but ended up limiting the damage to allow the offense to force extra innings. Austin Davis, Hirokazu Sawamura, Martín Pérez and Josh Taylor combined for five innings of scoreless relief, setting the stage for Kyle Schwarber to hit a game-tying home run — his first in a Red Sox uniform — in the ninth.
But the Red Sox couldn’t complete the comeback, leaving Xander Bogaerts (the winning run) stranded on third. He was just one of 12 men left on base by the team, and the Red Sox were 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
And that was before Hansel Robles gave up five runs on two home runs in the top of the 10th. The Red Sox did get two back in their last-ups, but fell 9-6.
The Red Sox were so close to looking like the team they were earlier in the season, when it seemed like every single day they were successfully battling back from an insurmountable deficit. But they just couldn’t pull everything together against the Twins on Wednesday.
“We struggled at the beginning,” Pivetta said after the game. “(Davis) came in after me and did a tremendous job of throwing up some zeros. Same with (Sawamura and Taylor). So they gave us a fighting chance. I think the way the guys swung the bat, they battled every single minute … Overall I think it was a lot of competitiveness out of our club and we’re hungry for more.”
To make matters worse, there were instances of players forgetting the fundamentals — Christian Vázquez held himself at second in the third inning, when he could have crossed the plate on a Schwarber single. Then, Alex Verdugo got caught at first base on what could have been a two-bagger when he stopped to watch his hit fly toward the Green Monster.
“Those things you can control,” manager Alex Cora said after the loss. “Know the outs, run out of the box. At this stage, it’s tough to watch. It’s not acceptable. We talk about it, and it keeps happening. As a staff we’ve got to keep pushing. We’ve got to keep pushing. We can’t give up.”
Here are other notes from Wednesday’s Red Sox-Twins game:
— Miguel Sanó gave the Twins a 2-0 lead in the third inning with a solo home run off of Nick Pivetta. And while a solo home run isn’t always the end of the world, this one had to hurt — it went 495 feet, the longest in MLB this season.
— Matt Barnes was unavailable for Wednesday’s outing after he failed to get an out in his appearance Tuesday. Before Wednesday’s game, Cora wouldn’t commit to Barnes holding it down at closer in the future.
— Schwarber was Boston’s designated hitter again Wednesday, but there’s a chance he could make his debut at first base on Thursday.
— On the injury front, Ryan Brasier is expected to pitch again Thursday in the minors, but Cora isn’t sure on a timeline for the reliever to make his 2021 debut in the bigs.
— The series finale is Thursday. Chris Sale (2-0, 1.80 ERA) will get the ball for Boston while John Gant (4-7, 3.77 ERA) will throw for the Twins. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. ET on NESN.