Stephen Drew punctuated his best game with the Red Sox with a two-out, walkoff double in the bottom of the 11th inning that drove home catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia from second base to give the Sox a 6-5 victory. It was Drew’s fourth hit of the game, his 13th career game with four or more hits, and his third career walkoff hit (last on April 27, 2011).
Drew provided most of the Red Sox offense in helping the team to snap its three-game losing streak. He delivered a two-out, RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning and then later adding a game-tying solo homer into the right field grandstand in the bottom of the seventh inning. He also added a one-out single in a tie game in the ninth. The homer pushed Drew’s average above .200 for the first time in his Red Sox career.
Since starting the year in a 2-for-23 rut, Drew — aside from a surprisingly high strikeout rate — has been more or less what the Sox hoped he might be when they signed him. He’s delivered steady, solid defense at short while offering on-base ability and some pop. In his last 14 games, Drew is now hitting .292/.364/.521 with a pair of homers.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Though he’d gotten on base at an excellent rate for most of the year, Dustin Pedroia was expected to be more than a table-setter in the No. 3 spot in the Red Sox lineup. But even with a .294 average and .396 OBP, he entered Monday with a hollow .345 slugging percentage. The Sox were the only team in the majors without a homer from the third spot in their lineup.
That’s now changed. With the Twins and Red Sox tied, 4-4, in the bottom of the eighth, Pedroia punctuated a three-hit night with an exceptional at-bat, fouling off four pitches with two strikes before launching the 10th offering from right-hander Casey Fien — a full-count changeup — off the base of the light tower in left field. It was Pedroia’s first homer in 214 plate appearances (the longest drought of his career) dating to last September 11.
– Shane Victorino jumped on a 3-2 slider from Vance Worley, lining a homer inside the Pesky Pole for his first homer as a Red Sox. He hadn’t gone deep against a right-handed pitcher since homering against Jeff Karstens last Aug. 13. However, in contrast to both 2012 and his career, Victorino has posted more impressive numbers against righties than lefties this year, a trend that continued on Monday against Worley and the Twins. Victorino was 3-for-3 with the homer and a pair of singles against his former Phillies teammate, and finished the game 3-for-5 (all against righties). Victorino now is hitting .328 with a .782 OPS against righties, with marks of .231/.580 against righties. His three hits matched a season high (achieved twice previously).
– In their first game of the year with two left-handers in their bullpen, the Sox got solid relief work from both of their southpaws. Andrew Miller inherited a two-on, one-out situation in the seventh and punched out left-handers Justin Morneau and Chris Parmalee on sliders. Then, making his 2013 debut in the top of the eighth inning, Craig Breslow sailed through a 1-2-3 inning in which he threw 10-of-12 pitches for strikes, got one swing and miss each on his cutter and fastball and commanded a fastball that he employed at 87-90 mph.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Entrusted with a one-run lead in the ninth, Joel Hanrahan could not close out his first save since Andrew Bailey landed on the DL. Instead, he gave up a colossal solo homer on a 96 mph fastball to Brian Dozier. It was the fourth homer given up by Hanrahan this year — four times the number of homers he allowed during his 2011 season, and half as many homers as he gave up in 2012.
Shortly after the homer, Hanrahan suffered an apparent injury at the end of a walk to Josh Willingham. He was visited on the mound by a trainer and manager John Farrell, then almost immediately headed off the mound with what the team later described as tightness in his forearm. He’ll be re-evaluated on Tuesday.
– Whether it was the controversy that served as a prelude to the game or simply represented an inevitable return to earth for a night following his meteoric start to the year, Clay Buchholz turned in his worst outing of the season, as the Red Sox fell to the Twins, 4-3.
After five days of controversy and questions surrounding whether or not he was employing a foreign substance on his left forearm, Buchholz did not shy from applying rosin to the area prior to the start of every inning. He either rubbed his index and middle finger across the rosin-laden area or grabbed it with the entirely of his right hand prior to 11 pitches in the first inning.
It didn’t seem to help. Buchholz found himself swimming upstream immediately in a first inning in which he needed 36 pitches — the third-highest first-inning pitch total of his career, and the most he’d needed since throwing 44 on April 17, 2010. By the time the dust had settled, Buchholz had permitted two runs on three hits (two doubles) and two walks, matching his season-high in runs permitted in any game this year before he’d recorded his third out.
Buchholz settled, at one point enjoying a dominant stretch in which he retired nine straight (with seven strikeouts worked into the mix), before getting touched for single runs in both the fourth and fifth innings. He limited the damage and, somewhat miraculously given his high pitch count in the first, managed to navigate through six innings, but his six innings of work represented a season low while his four runs (all earned) were a season high, as were the 115 pitches he required to get through the contest.
– Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out with runners in scoring position twice. Saltalamacchia is now hitless in his last eight plate appearances with runners in scoring position. His second strikeout on Monday came while batting right-handed against Duensing; Saltalamacchia is hitless in his last 12 plate appearances while hitting right-handed with runners in scoring position, with his last hit in such situations coming last June 9.
However, he ended up recovering to go 2-for-4 with a double and walk.
– While David Ortiz lined a double to right in his fourth plate appearance to extend his hitting streak to 26 games, he had a couple of costly plate appearances on a night where he went 1-for-4 while grounding into a pair of double plays. Most notably, he grounded into a 3-6-3 double play against Twins left-handed reliever Brian Duensing with two on and no outs in the sixth inning, at a time when the Sox trailed, 4-2 — a twin-killing that proved particularly costly since it was followed by an RBI single by Mike Napoli, a wild pitch and a walk by Daniel Nava. The game marked the ninth time in Ortiz’s career — and the first since 2010 — that he grounded into multiple double plays in the same game.
– Will Middlebrooks‘ struggles continued, as he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts before dumping an 11th-inning single into left field for his lone hit. In his second whiff, Middlebrooks was ahead in the count, 3-0, before swinging through three straight fastballs.
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