BOSTON – For weeks, Derek Shelton studied up on how to handle any situation that might come up. He met with the other Twins coaches Saturday, and texted with Paul Molitor twice. Heck, he even shaved.
But there’s nothing even the most well-prepared substitute manager can do about keeping the Red Sox from erupting.
Shelton’s managerial record as a fill-in for Paul Molitor fell to 0-1 after baseball’s highest-scoring team began looking like it again. Boston overcame the Twins’ early three-run lead in rolling to a 10-4 victory at Fenway Park.
“You know, the first two games here, Lance [Lynn] and Gibby [Kyle Gibson] did such a good job, but that’s the best offense in baseball,” Shelton said. “Tonight you saw them capitalize on some pitches that were mistakes.”
Gibson gave up one run in eight innings Thursday, and Lynn gave up two runs in six innings Friday, so maybe Shelton has a point. Eventually, the Red Sox will get their runs.
It took a while, at least, before they got to Jake Odorizzi, time enough for the Twins to open a three-run lead. Logan Morrison bashed his 13th home run of the season; Jorge Polanco hit a triple into the center field triangle for two runs; and Brian Dozier brought him home with a single, putting the Twins in front 4-1 after three innings.
But Odorizzi, who gave up only one run on four singles and two 400-foot fly balls to center in the first inning, couldn’t make it last.
“In the first inning, I was able to make a good pitch and limit the damage. In the fourth inning, they put it in play and hit it hard,” he said. “It just happens. They’re 40 games over .500 for a reason.”
So it seems. The long and loud hits came quickly in the fourth, mostly on plays that were inches from turning into outs. Rafael Devers bounced a ground-rule double into the bullpen. Jackie Bradley Jr. clanged a ball off the center field wall, just out of the reach of Jake Cave’s glove, and made it a two-run triple. And Mookie Betts tied the score with a double into the left-field corner, a line drive that smoked past a diving Miguel Sano.
“Through the first three, [Odorizzi] was really executing pitches,” Shelton said. “The thing they do extremely well, and they probably do about as well as anybody in the game, is they foul off tough pitches.”
One more extra-base hit broke the tie, and it was a memorable one: J.D. Martinez, who leads the majors in home runs, destroyed a 2-0 slider from Odorizzi for his 32nd of the year, a blast that cleared the Green Monster and sailed onto Landsdowne Street beyond.
The Red Sox tacked on plenty more — Gabriel Moya, promoted to replace the traded Ryan Pressly, gave up a run in the sixth, and Boston added four runs in the eighth thanks in part to a bases-loaded double by Eduardo Nunez — but the runs were mostly window dressing once the Boston bullpen took over for Rick Porcello, who earned his 13th victory of the season.
Some 250 miles away, Molitor was probably glad he didn’t have to watch this dismantling for once. Molitor rode across Massachusetts and New York on Saturday to reach Cooperstown, where he will watch old St. Paul pal Jack Morris join him in the Hall of Fame on Sunday.
The reigning AL Manager of the Year’s absence left Shelton to make out the lineup and handle pitching changes, his first time in charge of a team since he led the 2002 Staten Island Yankees to the best record in the New York-Penn League.
“I haven’t heard from Mollie yet, but I haven’t checked my phone,” Shelton said after the loss. “I’ll probably hear from him at some point now.”