Twins At Red Sox: Twins Drop Third Straight, 2-1 In Eleven Innings

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Red Sox Beat Twins In Pitchers' Duel, 2-1 In Eleven Innings

The Minnesota Twins put forth a valiant effort on Monday night at Fenway Park, but once again couldn't generate any offense when it mattered, as they fell 2-1 in eleven innings to the Boston Red Sox. The loss is the Twins' third in a row after winning the series opener in Boston on Friday.

Runs figured to be in short supply for the Twins on this night. . .partially because their offense has been terrible all season, and partially because the Red Sox were sending Josh Beckett to the hill. However, Twins' starter Nick Blackburn was equal to the task. Blackburn allowed just one run to the Red Sox in 6.1 inning, and it came on a fifth-inning single by Adrian Gonzalez that scored Jason Varitek in the bottom of the fifth.

Minnesota tied the game in the top of the eighth, as Denard Span singled with one out and advanced to second base on a balk by Boston reliever Alfredo Aceves, who came on for Beckett to start the inning. Boston brought Jonathan Papelbon out of the bullpen to face Jason Kubel, but Kubel made Boston pay with a single to center to score Span and tie the game at one. Alexi Casilla then came in to run for Kubel. . .something that would become very important later.

The teams were tied at one after nine innings, so the fans at Fenway got free baseball on Monday night. In the tenth, Luke Hughes drew a one-out walk from Hideki Okajima, and Span got an infield single to give the Twins runners on first and second with one out. After Matt Tolbert struck out, Jason Kubel's spot in the order came up. . .but, as we mentioned earlier, that spot was now filled by Alexi Casilla. Casilla grounded into a fielder's choice that saw Hughes get thrown out at third, and the threat was over.

The Twins had another opportunity in the eleventh, as they had runners on first and second with one out, and runners on the corners with two out, but failed to get anybody home. Jim Hoey came on in the bottom of the eleventh to relieve Jose Mijares, who had successfully navigated the ninth and tenth innings. After J.D. Drew flew out to center to start the inning, Hoey walked Jed Lowrie, who was immediately pinch-run for by Jose Iglesias. Carl Crawford then doubled off of the Green Monster, and Matt Tolbert's relay throw from Ben Revere was not in time to get Iglesias, giving the Red Sox the 2-1 win.

Okajima got the victory for the Red Sox, his first decision on the 2011 season. Hoey took the loss for Minnesota, and it was also his first decision of the year.

Minnesota will return home tomorrow to start an abbreviated two-game series with the Detroit Tigers. Francisco Liriano (2-4, 6.61 ERA) will make his first start since his no-hitter last Tuesday in Chicago, and he will be opposed by Tigers' right-hander Rick Porcello (2-2, 3.93 ERA). First pitch from Target Field is scheduled for 7:10 PM Central time.


Pavano Pounded Again As Twins Drop Second Straight

The Minnesota Twins lost their second straight game on Sunday afternoon, as right-hander Carl Pavano had his second straight disappointing start.

Pavano allowed seven runs on ten hits in five innings, and the Red Sox blasted the Twins after falling behind early, taking the third of this four-game set by a final score of 9-5 at Fenway Park. It was the second consecutive start that Pavano has allowed seven runs. Pavano now has the highest ERA of any of the Twins' starting pitchers, as his 6.64 is just a slight bit higher than Francisco Liriano's 6.61 mark.

The Twins actually jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, as Denard Span singled and stole second to get things started. After Trevor Plouffe walked and Justin Morneau struck out against Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jason Kubel singled to bring home Span. Michael Cuddyer's ground out moved the runners to second and third, and Danny Valencia brought home both runners with a single to center field.

Boston got one back on an RBI ground out by J.D. Drew in the bottom of the second, and then went to town in the bottom of the third when they put four runs on the board while batting around. Jason Varitek, Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, and J.D. Drew all drove in runs for the Red Sox in that inning.

Danny Valencia got one of those runs back for the Twins when he hit a solo blast off the foul pole on top of the Green Monster to lead off the fifth, making it 5-4, but the Red Sox got two more in the bottom of the frame. The first came on a solo home run by Gonzalez, and the second came on what should have been an inning-ending double play, but Alexi Casilla made yet another error, allowing Youkilis to score.

The Red Sox extended the lead to 9-4 in the bottom of the seventh, as Jed Lowrie's double plated two more for Boston. The Twins closed out the scoring in the top of the eighth with an RBI single by Jason Kubel to give us a final score of 9-5.

Matsuzaka got the victory to even his record at 3-3 on the season, while the loss for Pavano drops his record to 2-4.

The series finale will take place tomorrow at Fenway Park, with first pitch scheduled for 6:10 PM Central time. Nick Blackburn (2-4, 4.41 ERA) will take the mound for Minnesota, while the Red Sox will send Josh Beckett (2-1, 2.35) to the hill.


Twins Manage Just Three Hits In 4-0 Loss To Red Sox

One night after putting up nine runs, the Twins' offense returned to being the unit that we know and. . .well, not necessarily love, but expect.

Minnesota could manage just three hits on Saturday afternoon, as Clay Buchholz and four Red Sox relievers combined to shut the Twins down, taking the second game of the four-game set by a score of 4-0.

The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first thanks to Jed Lowrie's RBI single off of Twins' starter Brian Duensing (2-2, 3.00 ERA). Then, while the Twins were warming up for the top of the third inning, the skies opened up in Boston and the game was delayed for a little more than two hours. When the game resumed, Duensing had been lifted for the returning Kevin Slowey. The Red Sox then added to their lead in the bottom of the third, when Adrian Gonzalez hit a ground rule double to right field, and Kevin Youkilis brought him home with a single.

That was the only run that Slowey would allow, as he pitched 4.1 innings in his return. Glen Perkins got the last two outs of the seventh inning, and Alex Burnett came in to pitch the eighth. Burnett got the first two outs of the eighth in short order, but then gave up consecutive singles to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Carl Crawford, and then walked J.D. Drew to load the bases. Jacoby Ellsbury then singled to center, and the Red Sox found themselves with a 4-0 lead.

Clay Buchholz (3-3, 4.19 ERA), unlike Duensing, took the mound again after the rain delay, and wound up pitching five solid innings while allowing only two hits. Rich Hill, Matt Albers, and Daniel Bard each pitched a scoreless inning after that, with only Albers allowing a hit, and Jonathan Papelbon came in and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.

Two players were responsible for all three of the Twins hits. Justin Morneau beat out an infield single in the top of the first, and Michael Cuddyer got the other two Minnesota hits, a single to left-center in the fourth and a single to center in the seventh. The Twins did not even have a runner reach second base on the afternoon.

The same two teams will get together again on Sunday afternoon, with first pitch from Fenway Park scheduled for 12:35 PM Central time. The pitching match-up should be a good one, as Carl Pavano (2-3, 5.84 ERA) will head to the mound for the Twins, and Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-3, 4.33 ERA) will take the ball for the Red Sox.


Plouffe, There It Is! Twins Dump Red Sox, 9-2

It took a while for Trevor Plouffe to get his turn at shortstop for the Twins this season. If he continues playing like this, it's going to take a much longer while for anybody to displace him.

Minnesota's latest shortstop went 2-for-4 on the night, including a home run, and scored three times as the Twins amassed their second-highest run total of the year in defeating the Boston Red Sox 9-2 on Friday night in Boston.

Plouffe got things started for the Twins with a solo home run off of Tim Wakefield (0-1, 5.73 ERA) in the top of the first. Minnesota extended their lead to 4-0 in the top of the second after the Twins loaded the bases with nobody out. With the bases loaded, Drew Butera flew out to right field and Alexi Casilla struck out, making it look like the Twins might squander the opportunity. Denard Span wouldn't let that happen, however, as he laced a single to right field to score Michael Cuddyer and Danny Valencia and allow Ben Revere to advance to third. Revere then trotted home after Wakefield was called for a balk when it appeared Span had been picked off of first base.

The balk call incensed Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who charged out of the dugout to argue with home plate umpire Angel Hernandez, who made the call. In the midst of the argument, Francona bumped Hernandez, getting himself ejected and likely earning himself a vacation from managing in the process.

The Red Sox closed the gap to 4-2 thanks to solo home runs by J.D. Drew (in the second) and Adrian Gonzalez (in the fourth), but the Twins struck for four more runs in the top of the fifth to make the score 8-2. Plouffe scored the final run in the top of the sixth on another balk call on the Red Sox, this one against reliever Alfredo Aceves.

Scott Baker (2-2, 2.97) pitched eight solid innings on the evening, scattering seven hits and allowing the two solo home runs for all of the Red Sox scoring. Joe Nathan came on for the ninth inning and faced four batters, sandwiching a walk to Kevin Youkilis in-between retiring the heart of the Red Sox lineup.

The same two teams will get together tomorrow, with the Twins looking for what would be a season-best fourth consecutive win. Right-hander Clay Buchholz (2-3, 4.81 ERA) will take the hill for the Red Sox, and the Twins will send lefty Brian Duensing (2-1, 2.91) to the mound. First pitch will be early, as it is scheduled for 12:10 PM Central time.

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