Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a lead off solo shot over the Green Monster in the bottom of the ninth inning. But it wasn’t the walk off variety, nor did it tie a close game to send it into bonus cantos.
No, unfortunately it was the lonely highlight of an otherwise dismal offensive performance as the Boston Red Sox were taken to the woodshed by the Minnesota Twins by a final score of 6-1 at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.
Saltalamaccia’s drive was just the fourth Red Sox hit all evening, and came after Twins’ starter Scott Diamond had already lived up to his surname then hit the showers, throwing a seven inning, three hit gem. All three hits were singles, and Diamond issued no free passes, striking out two while not allowing a Boston baserunner to reach second base.
Josh Roenicke pitched a somewhat shaky eighth and ninth inning, allowing two bases on balls and Saltalamaccia’s homer – still far and away better than what Boston reliever Craig Breslow could muster, but he wasn’t the lone goat.
Breslow came on in the eighth inning, manager John Farrell lifting starter Ryan Dempster after reserve 3rd baseman Pedro Ciriaco noodle armed consecutive throws, allowing both batters to reach first on throwing errors. A double, walk and two singles later and Breslow was lifted for rookie reliever Alex Wilson…
…but the damage was done. What was a manageable two run deficit for the Sox thanks to Dempster’s five hit, eight strikeout performance quickly bloated to six runs and the Red Sox were history. Wilson pitched beautifully in holding the tough Twins’ batting order to just one free pass in two solid innings of relief.
It wasn’t just a rough night for seldom-used relief pitchers named Breslow, though. In the fifth inning, catcher David Ross and third baseman Will Middlebrooks collided while both were trying to run under a fly ball in foul territory. Both stayed in the game, but Ross lasted just one more batter before being replaced by Saltalamaccia while Middlebrooks stayed in the clubhouse after the sixth inning.
Both are to be evaluated on Wednesday, Ross with a bruised quadriceps and Middlebrooks with “Right side pain”, but both leaving a tight game is an ominous sign – particularly at third base, because Ciriaco has struggled, both in the field and on the base paths.
Other than Dempster’s and Wilson’s solid outings, there just aren’t many bright spots from this performance. David Ortiz kept his hitting streak alive, but overall the Sox offensive attack was, frankly, offensive. Since leaving Toronto and the launching pad at Rogers Centre, the Red Sox have lost four of five and have been outscored 25-11 in that span.
The good news is that Boston still leads the American League East, and the season is still in it’s infancy, so there’s plenty of time to make adjustments and tweak the staff. The Sox didn’t become the first team in the majors with 20 wins by accident – they have the tools and the talent, so a big fix is not needed, Farrell just needs to figure out a way to manufacture some runs…
…and quickly would be nice.