BOSTON – Danny Santana doesn’t want to brag, but did you see his squeeze bunt Wednesday?
“Perfect,” Santana said with a smile. “Perfect.”
It was, rolling slowly to a spot where pitcher Rick Porcello had to field it, giving Chris Herrmann plenty of time to safely cross the plate. But that wasn’t the only part of the Twins’ 2-0 victory over the Red Sox, salvaging a split of the doubleheader, that was exactly what the Twins needed.
There was the near-perfect pitching of Trevor May, who allowed only two baserunners over seven scoreless innings, the best start of his career. There was the three-up-three-down relief work turned in by Blaine Boyer and Glen Perkins in relief. And there was the victory itself, following a sloppy 6-3 loss in the afternoon’s first game, that turned around some negative numbers for the Twins: They stopped a five-game Fenway losing streak, avoided their first three-game drought since the season’s opening week, held on to first place in the AL Central and clinched the season series with the Red Sox for the first time since 2006.
The Red Sox “had every reason to come out here and try to keep [the pressure] on us,” manager Paul Molitor said. “And Trevor May just stepped up for us in a big way. That might be as well as I’ve seen him pitch.”
Probably so, considering it’s the first time in 20 career appearances that May didn’t allow a run, though May said he didn’t feel anything special on the mound.
“I’ve felt pretty similar in a few starts. Maybe a few more things went my way this time,” he said after tying his career high with nine strikeouts, issuing no walks for the third time in four starts, and setting down the Red Sox in order six times in seven innings. “Have a good game plan, be aggressive in the zone, make them beat you. The more you do it, the better chance you have of things going your way.”
Things such as that squeeze bunt, the Twins’ first of the season. After Herrmann doubled home Eddie Rosario for the Twins’ first run, he advanced to third on Aaron Hicks’ single. The slump-ridden Santana came to the plate with an inkling of what he might be asked to do.
“They asked a couple weeks ago — be ready for first-and-third, maybe we give the sign to bunt,” he said. “When I see the situation, I think, ‘Maybe they give me the sign.’ I was ready to bunt.”
Herrmann scored, the Twins led by two, and May had all the cushion he needed.
Too bad for the Twins that May’s two-hit outing wasn’t the day’s only one. Red Sox rookie Eduardo Rodriguez, making his Fenway Park debut, allowed Brian Dozier’s 10th home run and Santana’s infield single but nothing else, getting the Twins’ day off to a bad start.
Rodriguez left to a standing ovation after pitching seven strong innings. Hughes’ departure was much more ignominious — and much earlier, too. Hughes, whose four-game winning streak came to an end, failed to last five innings for the second time as a Twin, and the first time because of his pitching instead of injury. Boston harassed him with 11 hits, tying his career high, and he was probably fortunate to allow only five runs.
Dustin Pedroia collected three singles off Hughes, giving him a .390 career average against the former Yankee. David Ortiz doubled twice, giving him a .343 average off Hughes. And Xander Bogaerts singled three times, the last a two-run line drive that ended Hughes’ day.
“Gosh, Pedroia, I tried everything, it seemed like. Tried to run some stuff in on him, tried a curveball,” Hughes said. “I tried to elevate later on, but he was able to get on top of it. For whatever reason, he’s locked in against me.”