Preview: Twins at Red Sox
The AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins are rolling into June following one of their most successful months in the past quarter century and will get to face a team they swept last week, the Boston Red Sox.
Mike Pelfrey outdueled Clay Buchholz in the middle game of that series and they’ll square off again Tuesday night at Fenway Park after the opener of this four-game set was postponed.
Minnesota went 20-7 in May for its most wins in a month since going 22-6 in June 1991. The Twins (30-19) also moved into first place this late into a season — a half game ahead of Kansas City — for the first time since winning their most recent division title in 2010, and are off to their best start since winning 33 of 49 in 2001.
"We’re doing some good things, but it’s your ability to find a way to stay with what’s making you successful, and I’m not going to get too far ahead of myself," manager Paul Molitor said.
Molitor’s team claimed its seventh win in eight games Sunday by rallying for a 6-5 victory over Toronto. Torii Hunter hit the go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh inning and Trevor Plouffe had a two-run homer.
Plouffe has two hits in five of his last seven contests and is batting .379 with seven RBI in that stretch. He went 4 for 13 in the three-game sweep against Boston and is batting .333 in his last seven matchups with five multihit games.
The Twins were swept in three games in their most recent visit to Fenway from June 16-18 but will enter this series having won nine of 13 on the road.
Pelfrey (4-1, 2.77 ERA) will try to add to that mark with another superb outing against the Red Sox (22-29) following a 2-1 victory last Tuesday. He yielded one run in seven innings while Buchholz gave up both Minnesota runs in the first in an outing that lasted 7 1/3.
"That happens," Buchholz told MLB’s official website "I’ve gotten a lot of wins whenever I’ve given up four, five or six runs. It’ll turn around."
Pelfrey has yielded two runs or fewer and pitched at least six innings in five of his last seven starts. Buchholz (2-6, 4.33) has a 1.99 ERA in his last three games, pitching at least 7 1/3 innings in each, but has gotten a combined three runs of support and suffered back-to-back defeats.
Buchholz is winless in his last five starts against Minnesota despite posting a 2.97 ERA and has received a total of nine runs to work with.
Pelfrey will try to keep Buchholz’s run support low again while sending the Red Sox to their seventh loss in eight games and a season high-tying fourth straight. Boston was one out away from victory Sunday in Texas but Koji Uehara gave up Josh Hamilton’s two-run double in a 4-3 defeat, his second blown save in 12 chances.
Dustin Pedroia, batting .357 in his last 10 games, will try to help his teammate end that drought by adding to his .345 career average versus Minnesota. He went 5 for 12 with two homers last week in Minnesota.
Kurt Suzuki is hitting .417 in a 13-game hit streak versus the Red Sox but batting .192 in his last seven overall contests. He’s 9 for 18 lifetime against Buchholz.
Plouffe is 3 for 16 but had two hits off the right-hander last Tuesday.