Red Sox deal Twins first loss at new park
The rain came down, the crowd cheered, and the Red Sox and Twins kept playing.
"Out-door base-ball,” some fans chanted Wednesday in the second game at Target Field.
John Lackey didn’t seem to mind getting wet, either.
Lackey turned in a second strong start and Jeremy Hermida gave Boston room with a three-run double in the eighth inning, leading the Red Sox past Minnesota 6-3.
For the first time in 29 years, rain fell on the Twins at home.
"It held up pretty good. We didn’t slip or anything,” Twins center fielder Denard Span.
The crowd of 38,164, more than 1,000 below capacity, rediscovered baseball’s unique relationship with the weather. Temperature at first pitch was 73 degrees, but raindrops fell intermittently from the third through the eight innings.
Some fans scurried for the concourses and others hastily put up their umbrellas, but the first shower led to another celebration of Minnesota’s move out of the Metrodome to an open-air facility.
Lackey (1-0) lasted 6 2-3 innings for his first Red Sox victory, lifted early by Marco Scutaro’s two singles and Dustin Pedroia’s RBI double and solo home run. Scutaro batted leadoff again for the injured Jacoby Ellsbury, and Hermida filled in as the left fielder.
"Honestly, there was probably one inning there where it was kind of pretty slick,” Lackey said. "Once they fixed it, it was great the last two innings that I was out there.”
Twins starter Kevin Slowey (1-1) inched through five, giving up three runs and taking the loss after several discussions on the mound with Joe Mauer about pitch selection.
"He wanted to do something, and I wanted to do something else,” Mauer said. "We’re both in it to try to get outs. So go out there and talk about it and come up with a plan.”
After a sharp start last week in a win over the Los Angeles Angels, Slowey never found his footing — even literally in the fifth following Pedroia’s two-out shot.
Slowey gave up a single and a walk after the homer, prompting pitching coach Rick Anderson to the mound. He asked the umpires to check the mound, and the grounds crew guys hustled out for their first critical in-game task.
While they sprinkled fresh dirt on the front of the mound and behind the plate, Slowey spent a few minutes cleaning the mud out of his cleats. He got the last out of the inning, but his day was done with 98 pitches, five hits and four walks.
"I wish we had been able to smooth that out a little earlier, but a lot of that is on me really,” Slowey said. "It’s up to me to talk to Joe about what I want to do. He has to worry about all the pitchers on the staff.”
Lackey walked Span on four pitches in the third and gave up consecutive RBI singles to Orlando Hudson and Mauer, but retired Morneau on a long fly to center and settled in after that despite the mucky mound.
The sun came out when Mauer came to the plate in the seventh, ending Lackey’s afternoon, but he was intentionally walked to load the bases after a passed ball with two outs. Justin Morneau hit a weak popup near the mound to end that threat before Hermida’s big hit broke the game open.
Michael Cuddyer homered and Delmon Young doubled to start the eighth, but Daniel Bard finished the inning without more damage and Jonathan Papelbon worked the ninth for his third save. He got Cuddyer on a long fly to end the game with two on.
Beginning an $82.5 million, five-year contract with the Red Sox, Lackey has logged 12 2-3 innings over two starts with only 10 hits and two runs allowed.
"He’s no pushover. You don’t give ($82.5) million to a pushover,” Hudson said.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona joked that he envisioned Lackey yelling at Angels manager Mike Scioscia about taking him out of the game, but Lackey didn’t mind letting Hideki Okajima face Mauer instead.
"I’m just the new guy here, just kind of trying to get things done. I already faced Mauer three times. Giving him a new look is probably a good call,” Lackey said. "I’ll give him a few starts before I start yelling.”
NOTES: The four walks by Slowey tied a career high. … DH David Ortiz doubled but struck out twice more, giving him 13 in 26 at-bats. Francona still has faith: "Guys need time to settle in. If I don’t let ’em settle in, it’s just going to prolong what we’re going through.” … Span has only five hits but nine walks through nine games. "I can’t hit, but I can definitely see the ball,” he said. … Hermida has six RBIs and a hit in all five games he’s played in. "To go out there and see some consistent pitches for a few days never hurts your timing,” he said.