BOSTON 2, MINNESOTA 0 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Monday, June 17.
Batting star: C. J. Cron was 2-for-4.
Pitching star: Jose Berrios struck out ten in eight innings, giving up one run on five hits and no walks.
Opposition stars: Rick Porcello struck out eight in seven shutout innings, giving up four hits and a walk. J. D. Martinez was 2-for-4 with a double. Xander Bogaerts was 2-for-4 with a double.
The game: The Red Sox jumped on Berrios right away, opening the game with consecutive singles by Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, and Martinez. That produced one run and would've produced more had not Marwin Gonzalez thrown out Benintendi trying to stretch his hit into a double.
And that was the only scoring for some time. Nelson Cruz hit a two-out double in the first but nothing came of it. After that neither team even got a baserunner until the fifth. There was no threat to score until the seventh, when Cron hit a one-out double, and again nothing came of it.
The Twins' best scoring chance came in the eighth. Jonathan Schoop led off with a single and Max Kepler walked. Jorge Polanco bunted the runners to second and third with one out, but Cruz hit back to the pitcher and Schoop was thrown out at the plate on a contact play. Eddie Rosario grounded out to end the inning.
Boston got an insurance run in the ninth on doubles by Martinez and Bogaerts. The Twins went down in order in the bottom of the ninth.
WP: Porcello (5-6). LP: Berrios (8-3). S: Ryan Brasier (7).
Notes: Gonzalez remained in right, with Kepler in center and Byron Buxton remaining on the bench with a bruised wrist. I've said this before, but I'm quite pleased that the Twins are allowing Buxton's wrist to heal properly, rather than rushing him back into the lineup. Maybe that's Rocco's influence, because it sure seems different from recent years.
Polanco was 1-for-3 and is batting .332. Berrios has an ERA of 2.86.
This was another frustrating loss, although in a different way. It was frustrating to get such excellent pitching out of Berrios and not be able to take advantage of it. It should be mentioned that after the Martinez RBI single in the first, Berrios retired the next nineteen batters. He struck out ten and did not walk anyone. That's really, really good. There's no shame in getting shut down by Porcello, who's a good pitcher, too, but you hate to lose a game when your own starting pitcher did so well.
I really didn't have a problem with Polanco's bunt in the eighth inning. I realize that's going to be a minority opinion here, and that's fine. No one has to agree with me, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to argue about it this morning. But he moved the go-ahead run into scoring position with two really good batters coming up. I don't have a problem with doing that. It just didn't work.
I do have a problem with the contact play, and always have. I've never seen a study on it, but it just seems like there are a lot of times it doesn't work, and when it doesn't it pretty much takes you out of the inning. Earl Weaver once said of the hit-and-run "it has it's place, but most of the time that place is in the back of a deep, dark closet". That's where I'd put the contact play, too.
But the good news is that we still have the best record in baseball, we still have a ten game lead on the Clevelands, and today is a new day. Michael Pineda pitched quite well last time and hasn't had a really bad game in quite some time. The Twins haven't lost three in a row all year. They probably will at some point, but let's not let it be tonight.
Record: The Twins are 47-24, first in the American League Central, ten games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We'll just have to settle for 138-24!