I don't think the Twins hit the ball a heckuva lot better in this game. They just got a bunch of bleeders to squeak through. A team should get its share of those, though, so it was nice to see. It was also nice to see the other team commit a litany of blunders, for once. And Trevor Plouffe enjoyed an auspicious 2011 debut, 2-4 with a BB and a HR in his 1st AB. Of course, Jim Hoey also enjoyed an auspicious 2011 debut, and look how that's turning out. Still, the SS bar hasn't been set particularly high, so he doesn't have to do too much to be a an improvement.
Unless Francisco Liriano gets his act together, Scott Baker has assumed the mantle of Twins' Ace. He allowed 2 HR, but they were solo HR, and those won't kill you, right Bert? The overall line of 8 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K was excellent, especially against a stacked offense in a hitter's park. Another quiet IP from Joe Nathan to end the game.
I was thrilled when the rains came after the 2nd inning. The Twins were only down 1-0, but Clay Buchholz looked like he had good stuff, so the longer the delay, the better. The Twins had just activated Kevin Slowey, and so were in perfect position drop him in for the 3rd and have him take the game into the late innings (which he did). The Sox, meanwhile, had endured this very situation just 3 days earlier, had that game go into extra innings, got a short start the following afternoon, then put 2 relievers on the DL. The fresh reliever they called up on Friday was burned in the 1st game of this series. They had perhaps 6 relievers available, but they would have to cover 7 IP, leaving many of them unavailable for the remainder of the series.
Unfortunately, Terry Francona did something that almost never happens these days: he put his starter back in after a 2+ hour rain delay. Buchholz gave the Sox 3 more IP, and was perhaps even better than he had been at the start. 4 Sox relievers finished the game with an inning apiece, none throwing more than 18 pitches. Only Michael Cuddyer had a good day at the plate.
The Twins put up a crooked number in the 1st inning for, what, the 2nd time all season? And you just knew they were going to have to keep tacking on. But 5 R represents a herculean effort for this lineup, so I suppose we shouldn't complain too much about the offense.
Carl Pavano got knocked around - eventually. Though he gave up a big inning in the 3rd, most of the balls in play were unfielded grounders, including the 2-R single he allowed to Adrian Gonzalez that slipped under his own glove. There were DPs unturned. 3 errors in this game leading to 2 unearned runs. With better defense, it's closer. However, Pavano and Jose Mijares were legitimately cuffed all over the field in the later innings - liners right and left. No Ks for Pavano in 5 IP. He's got some adjustments to make. Another good IP from Nathan, though.
This game, had the Twins won, could have salvaged the series and the road trip. Nick Blackburn pitched as well as he can, allowing 0 HR and striking out 5 in 6.1 IP. Glen Perkins and Jose Mijares followed with 3.2 IP of scoreless relief. But the Twins' limp bench did them in again, as Matt Tolbert, Ben Revere and Rene Rivera combined to go 0-15 with 2 GIDP and 5 K, including 0-5 with 2 K with RISP. If they go 1-5 instead, we're probably talking about a win, here. This is the 3rd loss of the season that I'll pin on the non-depth.
Friday night's victory was the Twins' 1st at Fenway park since the final weekend of 2007, so there's some consolation there. Even good Twins teams haven't fared well in Boston. But there's still no sign of them snapping out of the team-wide funk that has them once again at the bottom of the standings. I wish had something more hopeful to say, but...