The Red Sox won a series against the American League Central division leading Twins this week, winning two of the three games of the set. Boston edged Minnesota 5-4 in 10 innings of a wild game on Tuesday, lost the middle game 10-4 on Wednesday, then bounced back for a lopsided 11-5 win the next afternoon.
The series featured a couple standout performances worth noting, including outstanding pitching to bookend the three games.
- Chris Sale, the starter for the first game of the set, gave the kind of performance Red Sox Nation dreamt about all off-season. It was vintage Sale, limiting the Twins offense and mowing down batter after batter. It was Sale’s 24th career start with three or fewer hits and 11+ strikeouts over 6.0+ innings, his first since August 8, 2019 against the Los Angeles Angels, also at Fenway Park (8.0 IP, 2 H, 13 SO).
Despite the cool weather, Sale on Tuesday looked to be in mid-season form, inducing 19 swings and misses for just the seventh time in his career in a March/April game, his first such game since April 10, 2018 against the Yankees.
- Tanner Houck looked terrific in the series finale, matching Garrett Whitlock for the longest outing by a Boston starter so far this season (7.0 IP). Houck improved to 3-0 and looked every bit a starter on Thursday, working quickly and limiting the Twins to three runs and a walk with seven strikeouts.
- Corey Kluber‘s middle-game performance was a standout for all the wrong reasons. He was rocked for seven runs, all earned, all of them scored in the first three innings of the game. Kluber is now 0-4 to start the season.
Red Sox offense looked good, for the most part, over the homestand.
- Alex Verdugo, who has played in all 20 games so far this season, is batting .338, with an American League-best .328 mark as the team’s leadoff batter (minimum 50 at-bats). It was Verdugo’s walk-off hit on Tuesday that sealed Boston’s win, the fifth walk-off hit of his career, his third in extra innings.
- Kiké Hernández, just 3-for-36 (.083) over his first 11 games of the new season, has found his stroke. Hernández was 11-for-26 (.423) over the homestand with a 1.025 OPS. He recorded his 100th career home run on Wednesday.
- Enmanuel Valdez, the minor leaguer who came to Boston as part of last year’s deal for Christian Vázquez, made his Major League debut in Wednesday’s game. He became the second Boston batter this season with multiple hits in his first MLB game (also Masataka Yoshida on Opening Day). The last time the Sox had multiple players in the same season with multiple hits in their first big league game was 2010 (Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish).
Valdez was also the 13th player in franchise history with multiple hits in his debut game from the No. 9 spot in the batting order. The most recent players to do that for the team were Nava (2010), Ron Mahay (1995), Luis Ortiz (1993), Rey Quinones (1986), and Tim Blackwell (1974).
- Jarren Duran, who has struggled so much in his limited action of 2021 and 2022 looks to have found something in his swing, at least early on in this new season. Over four games he’s batting .385 with a 1.104 OPS.
Pitcher Crawford Scores A Run
Red Sox pitcher Kutter Crawford earned a unique distinction on Tuesday when he entered the game as a pinch runner in the bottom of the 10th inning. Crawford came around to score, becoming the first primary pitcher to score a run as a pinch runner in a Boston game since Brian Johnson on June 26, 2019. Was the first Sox pitcher to score such a run run in extra innings since Steve Avery on June 18, 1998.
The Red Sox finished their homestand 5-2 and now head out on a road trip where they’ll first face another division leader, the Milwaukee Brewers.