Three extras from the windup to a 10-game homestand at Target Field, and a dramatic victory:
The Twins haven’t done much winning this season, so maybe Pat Dean is just conditioned to thinking this way now. Describing the emotions of his Red Sox-fan friends back at Boston College on Sunday, Dean seemed to get a little confused.
“I know a lot of Red Sox fans back home who told me they were rooting against the Red Sox for the first time today,” Dean said. “A couple of them said it was the best-case scenario for them — I did well and the Red Sox still won.”
Pause. Suddenly, Dean’s face turned red as he realized what he had said.
“Actually — we won! Holy crap!” he said of the Twins’ 7-4 walk-off victory. “Wow, that was bad. The ending kind of got my mind going a little crazy right now.”
It was a funny moment in a season that hasn’t had many. But Dean played a big role in the Twins’ win, so he can be forgiven for his momentary lapse.
Dean allowed the major leagues’ best offense, a team that had piled up 23 runs and 30 hits over two days, just a single run over 6 1/3 innings Sunday, and only three hits. The only one that hurt was Chris Young’s one-out home run in the fifth inning; otherwise, Dean was fooling the fastball-hungry Sox with his breaking stuff.
“He ate up some innings and he pitched really well,” manager Paul Molitor said.
It was all sort of storybook for Dean, especially one moment in the first inning. Dean grew up during the Red Sox resurgence in 2004, so facing David Ortiz was “pretty crazy,” he said. A day earlier, he had a clubhouse attendant ask Ortiz to autograph a baseball for him, after all.
Dean got ahead of Ortiz 1-2, but then couldn’t get him to bit on breaking balls out of the zone. So on 3-2, he threw his best fastball, 89 mph up in the zone, and Ortiz swung through it. Strike three.
“Having grown up watching him, that’s a pretty surreal experience for me,” Dean said. “He’s done some incredible things and he’s fun to watch, so that was a really cool experience getting to face him.”
Trevor Plouffe had not bunted this season, so surely the Red Sox were taken by surprise when he followed Joe Mauer’s leadoff walk in the 10th inning by squaring around. But Plouffe didn’t need the element of surprise — his bunt was perfectly placed.
Mauer advanced to second, and Plouffe became the second cleanup hitter in the majors this season — San Diego’s Melvin Upton, back on May 20, was the other — to sacrifice bunt this season.
“He did his job. You’re playing percentages there,” Molitor said. “At minimum, I wanted to have two shots at getting a base hit and try to win the game.”
Boston pitcher Matt Barnes, armed with his 98-mph fastball, “is not the esasiest guy in the world to bunt against,” Molitor said, “but he did his job.”
It was seventh career sacrifice bunt, but only the second one in the past three seasons.
Max Kepler’s dramatic home run ended a day of defensive blunders and missed opportunities — by both teams, for a change.
One day after a dropped fly ball played a role in triggering a Red Sox rout, Boston’s defense let it down, too. Three of the Twins’ four runs scored courtesy of defensive hiccups by Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who collected eight hits in the first two games of the series.
Bogaerts’ second-inning fielding error allowed Juan Centeno to reach base in the second inning and sent Eduardo Escobar to third, where he scored on Byron Buxton’s ground out moments later.
In the sixth inning, it was Bogaerts’ judgment that let him down. With two runners on base and two outs, the shortstop fielded an apparent inning-ending ground ball by Max Kepler. Bogaerts started to flip to Dustin Pedroia at second base, but suddenly change his mind because, thanks to a defensive shift, Pedroia was only a step ahead of Joe Mauer heading to second base. Bogaerts threw to first instead, but his throw was in the dirt, and Hanley Ramirez couldn’t hold on to it. Robbie Grossman scored on the error and, when Eduardo Escobar followed with a single, Mauer did, too.
That gave the Twins a 4-1 lead, but the Red Sox struck back in the eighth inning thanks to, of course, some shoddy Twins defense. After reliever Brandon Kintzler walked leadoff pinch-hitter Marco Hernandez, he allowed singles to Mookie Betts and Pedroia, loading the bases. Bogaerts then hit a double-play smash at Eduardo Nunez at third base, but his throw to second base sailed into right field, scoring two runs. David Ortiz followed with another double-play ball — this one, the Twins turned — but Pedroia scored on the play, tying the game once more.