Red Sox-Twins Preview
The Boston Red Sox have gone from struggling at the league’s
oldest ballpark to showing signs of settling down at the newest
In the finale of what has become a successful six-game trip, the
Red Sox face the Minnesota Twins on Thursday to close out the first
series at Target Field.
Boston (4-4) had a tough opening series at Fenway Park, losing
the final two games of a three-game set with AL East rival New
York. The Red Sox then opened their current trip with a loss to
Kansas City, but have since bounced back to win three of four,
scoring six runs or more in each of the victories.
That stretch includes a 6-3 win over the Twins (6-3) on
Wednesday. Boston lost the first game played at the Twins’ brand
new ballpark 5-2 on Monday.
Leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury has missed both contests due to
bruised ribs, and manager Terry Francona said he won’t play until
returning home Friday against Tampa Bay. The speedy left fielder
was hurt in a collision with teammate Adrian Beltre while chasing a
foul ball Sunday during an 8-6 win over the Royals.
With Ellsbury out, shortstop Marco Scutaro has been productive
in the leadoff spot, collecting two hits in each of his last two
Slugger David Ortiz, though, continues to struggle, striking out
twice to bring his season total to 13. Ortiz is batting .154, but
Francona wants to keep him in the lineup so he can work through his
“It’s not fantasy baseball, and it’s not like chess pieces,” he
said. “Guys need time to settle in. If I don’t let them settle in,
it’s just going to prolong what we’re going through.”
A matchup with the Twins’ Francisco Liriano (0-0, 4.50 ERA) may
not help Ortiz, who hit .212 versus left-handers last season.
Liriano had an underwhelming first start, giving up three runs
and walking five in six innings as Minnesota beat Chicago 4-3 in 11
innings Friday night.
Liriano, who went 5-13 with a 5.80 ERA last season, won the
fifth spot in the rotation with a strong spring training. He’s 0-2
with a 13.50 ERA in two career starts against the Red Sox.
Boston will counter with Tim Wakefield (0-0, 2.57), who gave up
two runs and struck out six in seven innings of a 4-3 loss to the
Royals on Friday night. It’s a promising start for the 43-year-old
knuckleballer, who had offseason back surgery.
The right-hander is 14-5 with a 4.16 ERA in 23 starts and three
relief appearance against the Twins.
Joe Mauer is 5 for 12 with a homer against Wakefield. The
reigning AL MVP is batting .400 with RBIs in three straight
Mauer had one of Minnesota’s two hits in 12 opportunities with
runners in scoring position Wednesday. Still, the Twins were able
to keep it close.
“We were in the game,” center fielder Denard Span told the
Twins’ official Web site. “I think it’s a good sign. … In the
past when we play the AL East, it always seemed like we got
crushed. So to play a Boston Red Sox team this tight, I think it’s
a good sign for us.”