A close game for six innings turned into a good old fashion blow out Wednesday afternoon as the Boston Red Sox completed the three-game series sweep of the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park in style, crushing their AL Central foes by a score of 18-5.
Heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, Boston held a 7-5 lead and had just escaped a bases loaded jam in the top half of the inning which could have put the Twins on top. The Sox came out and had their first two batters in the inning reach base, Mike Lowell with a lead-off walk and Sean Casey followed with a ground rule double to right.
Jason Varitek came to the plate next with both runners in scoring position and no outs. He connected on a sinking line drive to centerfield that Twins outfielder Denard Span made a great attempt to catch, but ultimately trapped the baseball in his glove. The umpiring crew originally ruled the hit a catch and an out, which resulted in a ‘triple play’ because the two Boston base runners had taken off thinking the ball was in play rather then an out. Span threw the ball into second base for the ‘second out’ and 2B Alexi Casilla walked the ball leisurely over to third base for the ‘third out’ and what the Twins believed to be a triple play to end the threat and inning.
Sox manager Terry Francona was already halfway onto the field before the play was even over to request the umpiring crew come together to review the original call on the field. They did, and the call was reversed to an RBI single for Varitek but more importantly, it kept the inning alive.
“I know what the score ended up being, but the game wasn’t played like that,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “We’re a pitcher away from that game going either way.”
Following the Varitek single, the Sox broke the game open by scoring seven total runs in the inning on seven hits. Dustin Pedroia extending his career high hitting streak to 17-games with a bases clearing double while Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis and Manny Ramirez also collected RBI hits in the inning. When all was said and done with in the seventh, the Sox were ahead 14-5 with the game under control.
“I’m just glad he didn’t catch it, and they were able to correct it,” Varitek said of the single that caused much controversy and resulted in Twins manager Ron Gardenhire’s ejection from the game. “It gave us an extra run when both teams were going back and forth. It just snowballed and exploded.”
The Sox tacked on four more runs in their eighth inning, highlighted by a Kevin Cash pinch hit home run, his 2nd on the season, and a Kevin Youkilis 2-run blast to cap off the scoring.
Josh Beckett picked up his 9th win on the season hurling 5+ innings while allowing five earned runs on eight hits. Livan Hernandez took the loss for the Twins lasting only 4 1/3 innings and surrendering six runs on 11 hits before getting relieved. Minnesota’s bullpen wasn’t much better, allowing 12 earned runs on 12 hits over the final 3 2/3 innings.
Every member of the Red Sox starting lineup not only collected a hit, but also scored a run. Ellsbury finished the day with four hits, Youkilis three hits and four RBI’s, Ramirez three hits and three RBI’s and Casey three hits and two RBI’s.
“It’s Fenway at its best. You make mistakes here, they make you pay for it,” Gardenhire said. “It was a good game for a while. Got out of hand.”
The Red Sox are now only two games behind the AL East leading Rays who were swept in a three game series by the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees trail Tampa Bay by 6 1/2 games and the Wild Card leading Sox by 4 1/2 games.
Boston has today off and will face Baltimore for three games over the weekend. Clay Buchholtz (2-3) will start for the Sox in Friday night’s match up. Buchholtz tossed a no-hitter against Baltimore last season in his 2nd major league start at Fenway Park. Saturday’s match up will feature veteran Tim Wakefield (5-6) hurling against rookie Radhames Liz (3-1) and to conclude the series Boston will send Dice-K Matsuzaka (9-1) to the hill to pitch against Baltimore’s Daniel Cabrera (6-4) before the league breaks for the All Star festivities July 14th through July 16th.
Tickets are still available for all three weekend games.