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.