Game 106: Minnesota Twins at Red Sox (July 29, 2018)

The previous night's thrilling walk-off win in extra innings was still fresh in the mind as game three of this series got underway. I really wanted to see the Red Sox shake out of the lethargy they seemed to be in over the last week and make a statement in this game. They had Rick Porcello on the mound and were facing a team going nowhere in the Twins so it was set up perfectly for them to make some noise. With news that the Yankees had lost the first game of their doubleheader to the Royals earlier in the day, it was also a chance to add to the division lead a bit. As a nightcap to a relaxing Saturday spent outside enjoying the gorgeous weather and watching my oldest daughter play softball, this game ended being (mostly) what I had asked for.

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The scoring got started quickly in the bottom of the first inning when Mitch Moreland roped an RBI line drive to right field to bring in Andrew Benintendi. Minnesota got that run back the next inning off of Logan Morrison's solo homer and built their lead up in the third when they scored three more. Jorge Polanco's triple drove in two and was followed by Brian Dozier driving him in to make it 4-1. Porcello had looked good...not great, but very good and yet the Twins were hitting the ball hard and in all the right places. The never-say-die attitude of this team was on full display in the next inning, though. In the bottom of the fourth, the Sox pushed three runs across, first on Jackie Bradley's two RBI triple and then when Mookie Betts doubled to knock Bradley in. Tie game and from there, the Sox never looked back. JD Martinez absolutely crushed a ball over the Green Monster and out of Fenway Park in the fifth to give the Sox the lead again and from there, they kept piling on. Benintendi drove in a run in the sixth, Mookie (RBI double), Rafael Devers (a walk with the bases loaded), and Eduardo Nunez (two RBI double) all drove in runs in the eighth, and the Sox ended up winning this in a 10-4 rout. The only bad news (besides the Yankees coming back to win the second game of their doubleheader) was Devers leaving the game in the eighth. The team announced afterward that he'd be heading back to the 10-day DL with a hamstring injury. The already thin infield defense at third and second just got a bit thinner. Expect to see a lot more of Tzu-Wei Lin and Brock Holt in the coming weeks unless Dave Dombrowski can find someone effective on the market and pull something out of his hat before Tuesday's trade deadline.

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As for the pitching, Porcello earned his 13th win of the season and was effective even though he only went 5.2 innings. He struck out five, walked one, and gave up four runs on five hits but with the offensive muscle the Sox showed in this one, it was enough to get the job done. More encouraging was Tyler Thornburg in the eighth inning. He didn't allow a hit and struck a batter out in his inning of work and he may be finally rounding into the form we thought we were getting when we traded for him two years ago. Time will tell on that one, but with as inconsistent as the middle relief has been all season, it would be a welcome development. Boston is 5.5 games up in the AL East and can go for the series win this afternoon. New pickup Nathan Eovaldi will be making his Red Sox debut today as the team looks to continue keeping the Yankees at bay before facing them on Thursday.