BOSTON – When the weather is bad, the Twins somehow get worse.
For the second time in six days, the Twins were forced to wait out a storm delay — two of them this time, actually — and when the game commenced, they played like they were all wet. Hector Santiago’s return to action was a steady drizzle of pitches off the plate, the bullpen gave up a monsoon of hits, and even the normally steady defense turned soggy. The result was a dispiriting 9-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox in a game that ended after midnight Wednesday.
Just like Thursday, when Nik Turley sat around all afternoon at Target Field while it rained and then put his team in a deep hole against the White Sox, the pitching gave the Twins little chance once the skies cleared. An astonishing 17 of the first 31 Red Sox batters reached base, two of them via error but two of them via long and loud home runs, and Boston scored in five consecutive innings to encourage 90 percent of a sellout crowd of 36,804 to leave Fenway Park early.
“We haven’t had a lot of games where our defense has let us down to a degree that had a big influence on the outcome. [Tuesday] was a little bit different,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We gave [the Red Sox] extra outs, and these guys capitalized.”
Did they ever. Byron Buxton scooped up a ball off the wet grass and sailed a throw home high over catcher Jason Castro’s head, enabling a run to score. Brian Dozier kicked a double-play grounder into short left field, another run-scoring error. Eduardo Escobar missed a grounder to third and that, too, resulted in an extra Boston run. The Twins’ pitching wasn’t very good — 10 hits and seven walks are probably enough to lose most games even if the defense is sparkling — but five unearned runs meant the Twins had no chance.
“I’ve seen some really good games here and I’ve seen some ugly ones,” Molitor said. “[Tuesday’s game] would fall in the latter category for sure.”
Santiago had waited three weeks to pitch in the majors again, after feeling discomfort in his pitching shoulder in his last start on June 6, so standing by for an extra 50 minutes as a pregame storm cell passed by wouldn’t figure to make much difference. But when he finally reached the mound, he had plenty of trouble finding the plate. He needed 49 pitches to record only six outs, and one of those pitches, a 2-2 sinker to Boston catcher Christian Vazquez, landed more than 400 feet from home plate, high up in the monster seats in left-center.
“It’s crazy when you go 20 days without being in a big league game, how that [strike] zone feels like it’s closing in on you,” Santiago said. “But I feel like I had some good velocity, some good separation between the fastball and breaking balls. I just wish it could have gone on longer.”
That wasn’t going to happen, because once Santiago got the third out in the second inning, the grounds crew put the tarp back on the field. Five minutes later, the thunder and lightning returned, and the game was delayed again by 76 minutes. Santiago didn’t return once the game resumed, but Boston starter Drew Pomeranz did, and he quickly became the beneficiary of a lackluster performance by the Twins.
Actually, the first batter upon resuming was Eddie Rosario, who doubled off the wall. But as if to trigger all the mistakes to come, Rosario suddenly took off for third base two pitches later. He was out by several feet, and the Twins never brought the tying run to the plate again.
“I don’t know what he saw,” Molitor said. “I don’t know what he saw.”