BOSTON — The Twins were hoping that their front office would supplement their roster, not subtract from it, for a run at the postseason. On Sunday, they were reminded why.
Nathan Eovaldi, a righthander the Twins clobbered when he pitched for the scuffling-along Rays just two weeks ago, appeared electrified and invigorated by his sudden transfer to the top of the standings. The Twins, meanwhile, looked like a team deflated by its front office’s trade-deadline sell-off. Eovaldi, making his Red Sox debut, outpitched Jose Berrios with seven shutout innings, and the Twins lost for the third straight day, falling 3-0 at Fenway Park.
Minnesota opens a three-game series with first-place Cleveland at Target Field on Monday, but their chances of making a charge in the AL Central have been seriously damaged this week, albeit against baseball’s best team. They trail the Indians by nine games, and face the prospect of being stripped of even more veterans before Tuesday’s deadline.
Berrios isn’t going anywhere, but he too appeared unusually afflicted on Sunday. Just two starts removed from his All-Star appearance, the righthander was strafed for a career-high nine hits by Boston’s best-in-the-business lineup, while recording only 14 outs. Berrios walked three and hit a batter, too, and put runners on base in each inning he pitched.
That he allowed only three runs was remarkable, and an indication of his ability to pitch out of trouble; the Red Sox were only 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position against him. But they had too many runners for Berrios to get them all — he had faced nine bases-loaded at-bats in his previous 21 starts this season, and had four in the first four innings on Sunday.
J.D. Martinez cashed in one of those opportunities by smashing a double that rolled to the left-field wall, scoring two in the first inning. He also drove in Boston’s third run in the fourth, following Andrew Benintendi’s double with a line-drive single.
Meanwhile, the Twins could do little against Eovaldi, never putting more than one runner on base in any inning. The Red Sox righthander, acquired in a trade last Wednesday, gave up four hits, two of them infield singles, and no walks.
The loss sent the Twins home with a 4-6 record on their three-city road trip.