Before heading back to Minnesota, here are some leftovers from the Twins’ fifth win over the Red Sox this season:
— Thursday’s game was a heartening, albeit somewhat bizarre, return to the majors for Tommy Milone, who gave up a season-high nine hits over five innings, but could rightfully say he didn’t get hit very hard. Of the six hits the Red Sox collected in the first two innings, five stayed in the infield and the sixth was a bloop double that landed about 40 feet behind first base.
“It didn’t seem like things were going my way those first two innings, but I told myself, throw good pitches and they’ll be outs,” Milone said. “Infield singles, you can’t do anything about that. They just put them in a good spot. … I felt like I was making some good pitches.”
Not all of them were good. Milone also allowed a couple of long home runs over the left-field wall to Blake Swihart (the first of his career) and Dustin Pedroia (who went 8-for-17 in the series).
And after five dominating performances at Class AAA Rochester, where Milone struck out 47 batters and walked just three in 38 2/3 innings, he didn’t walk anyone Thursday, reflecting his newfound attention to the strike zone. For just the third time in his career, he didn’t strike anyone out, either.
— The Twins compounded Milone’s bad luck by committing a pair of errors, too, each of which led directly to an unearned run. In the second inning, with two outs and runners on first and second, Hanley Ramirez grounded a ball to Joe Mauer at first base. Nobody covered the bag, but it didn’t seem to matter when Mookie Betts rounded third base too far. Mauer whipped the ball to Plouffe — who dropped it, allowing Betts to score.
David Ortiz followed with a routine ground ball to short, but Eduardo Escobar allowed it to roll under his glove, scoring a second run.
“It wasn’t a pretty game for either team,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “That second inning, we just seemed to compound our problems by not executing. It’s going to happen.”
— The Red Sox weren’t exactly mistake-free, either, making a three errors themselves, two of which, both by Pedro Sandoval, cost them runs. But it was their baserunning adventures that really helped the Twins, from Xander Bogaerts getting picked off first base by Milone, to Hanley Ramirez heading for third base on a Mike Napoli grounder to third, making him an easy tag out for a startled Trevor Plouffe.
But the weirdest play came one batter after Ramirez’s seventh-inning gaffe. With Napoli running on a 3-2 pitch, Bogaerts lined a solid single to right-center off Casey Fien, sending slow-footed Napoli to third base. But Napoli rounded the bag, then sped up and headed for home, where Brian Dozier’s relay throw beat him by 20 feet.
Actually, the Twins said, they kind of admired the gamble.
“That’s a heck of a play, sending him, in my opinion,” Dozier said. “Tough part of the game, lot of shadows, [Third base coach Brian] Butterfield trying to be aggressive. I like it.”
Molitor said the Twins were ready for it, sort of.
“You try to prepare your guys, [tell them] that backdoor runs with two outs are things that teams try to do. The Red Sox, I know they’ve done that a couple of times this year already because we saw the video,” Molitor said. “They’re taking a chance on a juggle on the relay, or maybe an errant throw by the second baseman. It’s not a common throw for your second baseman, deep on the dirt and to make an accurate throw. Obviously a good throw’s going to get him but they decided to take a chance. … With two outs, it’s a pretty good gamble.”