Twins suffer series-opening rout by Red Sox
MINNEAPOLIS -- The stumbling Minnesota Twins weren't much of a match for Boston's Steven Wright and his tricky knuckleball.
Xander Bogaerts matched a career high with four hits, including a three-run home run, and Wright pitched into the eighth inning as the Red Sox topped the Twins 8-1 on Friday night.
Wright, who tossed complete games in each of his three previous turns on the road, left in the eighth after allowing a one-out single to Joe Mauer. The only run against Wright (7-4) was unearned, and he struck out six with only two walks.
"He sped it up. He slowed it down. He had it going in. He had it going out," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It's just tough. If he throws a good one, you know, it's, 'Good luck.' You hope you get a couple mistakes."
The Twins wasted a leadoff double in the third. Robbie Grossman squandered his leadoff single in the fourth by getting caught stealing, and Byung Ho Park struck out to end that inning with two runners on. Then in the fifth, Mauer grounded out weakly back to Wright on the mound with the bases loaded to extinguish that threat.
"He was really good. He was really aggressive in the zone. Almost every pitch was a strike," Twins shortstop Eduardo Nunez said. "He forced us to swing."
In his last five starts, Wright is 3-0 with a 0.99 ERA in 36 1/3 innings. That's enough success to make Twins starter Tyler Duffey think about trying to add a knuckleball to his repertoire.
"He's had an unbelievable year. It's definitely in the back of your mind," Duffey said, laughing.
Duffey (2-5) was knocked out after 5 1/3 innings. He surrendered six runs and 10 hits and has an ERA of 8.36 in his last five starts. Both Duffey and Molitor pointed to progress, but the over-the-plate location of his fastball to Bogaerts in the fifth was a devastating mistake.
Bogaerts' drive landed in the bullpen behind left-center field for a 3-0 lead the Twins never recovered from, one of 16 hits by the Red Sox.
"It was just one of those days where some balls could've gone one direction and they went another," Duffey said. "Who knows? You get out of that with two runs instead of six, we're having a different conversation."
Bogaerts' homer came after Minnesota's inability to turn a double play earlier in the inning. Mookie Betts hit a grounder to third baseman Trevor Plouffe, who threw to second base. But Brian Dozier lost the handle on the ball and couldn't make the throw to first to end the inning.
Boston added three runs off in the sixth on an RBI single by Christian Vasquez, Dustin Pedroia's RBI double and Bogaerts' RBI single.
Pedroia, who went 3 for 5, extended his hitting streak to 16 games, the longest active streak in the majors.
Byung Ho Park struck out in all four his at-bats, three against Wright and his knuckleball and one against hard-throwing reliever Matt Barnes. The rookie from South Korea, who is hitting .215 with a team-high 64 strikeouts in 181 at-bats, had never before faced a steady diet of knuckleballs.
"He's staying with it. I think he's trying to stay positive as best he can," Molitor said.
Boston DH David Ortiz, who is retiring after the season, was honored before the game by the team he made his debut with in 1997 and played with through 2002. Before Friday, Ortiz ranked first all-time in batting average (.435), on-base percentage (.487) and slugging percentage (.899) among visiting players with at least 35 at-bats at Target Field. Ortiz went 2 for 5 with a double.
The Twins were still waiting for MRI results on the left knee of RHP Phil Hughes, who was bruised after taking a line drive off the leg Thursday against Miami and placed on the DL.
Eduardo Rodriguez (1-1, 5.40 ERA) will make his third start for the Red Sox, after giving up five runs in a loss to Toronto his last turn. Kyle Gibson (0-3, 6.10 ERA) will return for the Twins from the DL after being sidelined since April 22 because of shoulder and back trouble.