By Ian Browne and Betsy Helfand
MLB.com |@IanMBrowne |
MINNEAPOLIS -- Strong starting pitching and early offensive bursts have defined the Twins in May as they've shot up in the standings. Tuesday was no different for Minnesota, which used that formula to secure a 2-1 victory over the Red Sox at Target Field.
Following an 81-minute rain delay before the first pitch, three first-inning doubles provided enough offense for Twins starter Mike Pelfrey, who pitched seven innings and gave up just one run for his second consecutive quality start. Closer Glen Perkins came on in the eighth, worked out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam and nailed down a four-out save to secure the series victory.
"It was one of those games where all the runs were on the board by the second inning. As we've been doing, we came out and [Brian] Dozier jump-started us again and Torii [Hunter] had a good at-bat to get on base," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Really pretty large two-out base hits there with the doubles by Trevor [Plouffe] and [Kurt] Suzuki to get us a couple early."
A misplay by Twins left fielder Eduardo Escobar in the second inning enabled David Ortiz to cruise into second for a double in the second. Mike Napoli followed that up with an RBI single for the Red Sox's only run of the game.
"A lot of early outs, put the ball on the ground, a couple of ground-ball double plays. I'd like to think our approach can be a little bit more concerted, a little bit more concentrated," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "You never want to take away credit from a guy that's throwing the ball well this year in Pelfrey. But still, I think we're capable of more than we showed here tonight."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Twins strike early: Like Monday, Brian Dozier led off the game with a double. He was eventually doubled home by Plouffe, who was doubled home by Suzuki. The trio of doubles gave Minnesota an early 2-0 lead and marked the seventh time in eight games that the Twins have scored in the first inning.
"I think that it starts with the guys at the top of our lineup," Plouffe said. "I think Dozier's done a great job. He's really aggressive and we know he's ready to swing and lately he's been connecting, and so we [have] him and Torii at the top doing a great job getting on base. We know Joe [Mauer] is going to get on base -- he's done that his whole career. It puts pressure early on in the game against a pitcher who's really just trying to establish himself, and that's kind of been what we've been doing lately, is scoring early and just handing it over to our starter and our bullpen."
Rusney flashes the leather:Rusney Castillo made two terrific catches for the Red Sox in right field. The first was in the sixth, when he raced to the gap in right-center and snared a liner by Suzuki that would have gone for at least a double. In the eighth, Castillo robbed Suzuki again, making a diving catch on a sinking liner. More >
"He made a couple of nice diving plays, one going into right center field and in that eighth inning, he gets a sinking line drive off of Suzuki's bat," said Farrell. "Very good defense from him tonight."
Perkins gets four-out save: Perkins recorded his second four-out save of the season, pitching out of a bases-loaded jam he inherited from Blaine Boyer. Perkins ended the eighth by getting the dangerous Hanley Ramirez on a flyout to right. It was the lefty's fourth career multi-inning save and Major League-leading 17th save of the season.
Buchholz strong in loss: Though Clay Buchholz slipped to 2-6, his record is no indication of the way he's pitched of late. The righty has pitched well in his last four starts. In this one, he went 7 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and two runs. Both runs Buchholz allowed came in the first. He walked one and struck out four. More >
"I didn't have much tonight," said Buchholz. "I didn't have command of any one pitch. As the game went on, I found a couple pitches and was able to throw a couple strikes and make some big pitches in some big situations. As far as stuff goes, I feel like that's the worst that I've had."
"I just try to follow what Torii does. He's got a little better rhythm than me." -- Pelfrey, on his postgame dance moves
"I don't see anyone pressing. Pelfrey was good tonight. It's not like we're going up there and they're putting the ball up on the tee. This is the Major Leagues. He threw the ball great. He's been throwing the ball great all year. He's just ... we didn't get to him." -- Dustin Pedroia
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Twins have been the American League's hottest team in May. With the victory, they moved to 17-6 on the month. It's their first 17-win month since June 2011.
With one out in the second, Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks chopped a ball to shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who barehanded the ball and nabbed Hicks. Hicks was called out by first-base umpire Dale Scott and the decision was upheld after a one-minute, eight-second review.
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: Right-hander Rick Porcello, coming off a rare bad start, will close this series out for Boston on Wednesday at 1:10 p.m. ET. Porcello imploded in the fifth inning last time out and took a 12-5 loss to the Angels.
Twins: Right-hander Phil Hughes will make his 10th start of the season Wednesday at 12:10 p.m. CT as Minnesota goes for the sweep. He has pitched seven innings and allowed two runs in each of his past two starts and has a 4.50 ERA.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.