BOSTON – Brian Dozier feels like he lost three times Friday. That might be a record.
Dozier’s closest friend on the Twins, Eduardo Escobar, was traded away to Arizona just before batting practice Friday. Dozier’s fellow southerner, Ryan Pressly, was dealt to Houston sometime during the late innings and found out on the way to his locker after the game.
And in between, the Twins staged a startling comeback against baseball’s best team and its All-Star closer — and then lost anyway. Mookie Betts slugged a pitch from Matt Belisle, forced into action by Pressly’s sudden unavailability, into the delirious Red Sox fans atop the wall in Fenway Park to lead off the 10th inning, ending the Twins’ four-game winning streak with a 4-3 loss that just felt like piling on.
“It stinks,” Dozier said, summing up a day that just kept getting worse for the remaining Twins, who had hoped to make a late-season playoff charge, as they did last year. “You set out to accomplish something at the beginning of the year, and we aren’t going to be able to do that together.”
The game was about as painful as a loss can be, given that the Twins were completely shut down by longtime nemesis Chris Sale for six innings. But they came alive once the Cy Young Award frontrunner departed.
They put together one run on an error by Eduardo Nunez, and then took the lead with two out in the ninth inning when Eddie Rosario — playing third base in the late innings — cracked a two-run double off the Green Monster. That marked the first time since May 9, 24 saves ago, that Boston closer Craig Kimbrel had failed to protect a lead.
Before the Twins could celebrate the possibility of winning, though, their closer allowed the lead to vanish. Rafael Devers lined a 2-1 fastball from Fernando Rodney into the bullpen to lead off the bottom of the ninth, Rodney’s sixth blown save. Then Betts crushed Belisle’s second pitch in the 10th, the team-record seventh walkoff homer against the Twins this season.
Pressly suspected his status had changed when Belisle, not him, was called upon. On his way to his locker, Pressly’s inkling was confirmed. He was called into Molitor’s office and told he had been dealt to Houston.
“It’s tough. A lot of friends here — it’s tough to say goodbye,” Pressly said. “But I get it. I get to go back home [to Texas], which is the good part. I’m excited to go down there and help that team win.”
But the remaining Twins couldn’t help but feel that their team has given up on winning. The loss dropped them eight games behind Cleveland, but the margin suddenly felt a lot more insurmountable.
“I don’t know a better way to say it than ‘disappointing.’ It’ll sink in later tonight,” said Dozier, a frequently rumored trade target himself. “I don’t want to touch on that too much. We all know the next few days that something [else] can happen.”
Plenty of Twins were left to wonder whether they’re soon to depart, too. Lance Lynn, for instance, improved his trade value by giving up only two runs over six innings, and that on only one mistake: a fastball that Jackie Bradley crushed over the wall, a two-run blast.
“You know when you go into a game facing Sale, you’ve got to match him.I truly made one mistake and got the old Monster front-row seats,” Lynn said. So, was he thinking that this might be his Twins farewell?
“You don’t. Well, you try not to. I was worried about not getting lit up,” Lynn joked.