BOSTON – They were not the outings the Red Sox expected from their starter or wanted from their closer. But the Sox overcame both as Stephen Drew’s walk-off double with two outs in the 11th inning scored Jarrod Saltalamacchia, giving the Sox the win over the Twins, 6-5.
With two outs in the 11th, Saltalamacchia reached on an infield single off Jared Burton, taking second on Will Middlebrooks’ single to left, setting up Drew’s winning hit. It was the fourth hit of the night for Drew.
Clay Buchholz was far from the dominant pitcher he had been in his first six starts this season. Buchholz went six innings, giving up a season-high four runs on seven hits and two walks with nine strikeouts. He threw 116 pitches, 78 strikes, as his ERA climbed to 1.60 – all season highs.
Joel Hanrahan, who reclaimed the closer’s role before the game when Andrew Bailey was placed on the disabled list, gave up a game-tying home run to Brain Dozier in the ninth, then left three batters later with an injury.
Clayton Mortensen replaced Hanrahan with two outs and 1-and-0 count to Morneau in the ninth. He needed just one pitch to end the inning, then pitched two more innings scoreless innings to earn the win, improving to 1-2.
Burton (0-1) took the loss for the Twins.
Dustin Pedroia’s first home run of the season – in his 123rd at-bat and 143rd plate appearance – off Twins reliever Casey Fien put the Sox ahead, 5-4, in the eighth inning, their first lead of the game.
The Sox offense could sustain little production against Twins starter Vance Worley, who entered the game winless this season, with an ERA of 7.22. Worley went five innings (plus two batters in the fifth) giving up three runs on nine hits, with no walks, three strikeouts, and a home run. He left with a 4-2 lead.
Neither starter was involved in the decision, as the Sox tied the game on Stephen Drew’s seventh-inning solo home run off Fien.
Buchholz needed 36 pitches (23 strikes) facing eight batters in the first inning, when he gave up two runs, matching the most he’s allowed in any start this season. With one out in the inning, Buchholz gave up back-to-back doubles to Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham before a run-scoring single to Justin Morneau. He then issued back-to-back walks to load the bases. But back-to-back strikeouts ended the inning, saving Buchholz from more damage.
From that point, Buchholz regained the form that had made him the winningest pitcher in the American League. Including the two strikeouts to end the first, Buchholz retired nine straight batters, the first four and seven overall on strikeouts.
But he faltered again in the fourth, when he gave up a back-to-back one-out doubles to Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks, putting the Twins ahead, 3-0.
Shane Victorino’s first home run of the season, into the right field corner behind Pesky’s Pole, cut the Sox deficit, 3-1, in the bottom of the inning.
But, the Twins got a run in the fifth when Mauer led off with a ground-rule double into the Sox pen, taking third on Willingham’s single, and scoring on Morneau’s sacrifice fly.
In the bottom of the fifth, Daniel Nava led off with a double. After Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Will Middlebrooks struck out, Stephen Drew’s single scored Nava. But the Sox lost an opportunity when Drew was thrown out trying to score from first on Jacoby Ellsbury’s double to center.
STAR OF THE GAME: Stephen Drew
Drew went 4-for-5 with a run scored and three RBI. His seventh-inning solo home run tied the game and his two-out double in the 11th provided the game-winning RBI.
It was the third walk-off hit of his career, and the first since April 17, 2011, against the Giants, with the Diamondbacks. It was the 13th four-hit game of his career.
He has two home runs this season, both in the last five games after going 16 games without a homer.
Drew raised his average from .182 to .225.
HONORABLE MENTION: Clayton Mortensen
Mortensen entered the game in the ninth two outs, one on, and a 1-and-0 count to Justin Morneau in relief of Joel Hanrahan, who left with a right forearm strain. Mortensen needed one pitch to get out of the inning. He went 2 1/3 scoreless innings giving up one hit and two walks with one strikeout to earn the win, improving to 1-2, with a 3.78 ERA.
THE GOAT: Jared Burton
With two outs in the 11th inning, Burton gave up three straight hits, including Drew’s game-winner. He was ahead in the count on each of the three batters he gave up hits to – 0-and-2 to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who singled, 0-and-1 to Will Middlebrooks, who singled, and 0-and-1 to Drew.
THE TURNING POINT
With two outs in the ninth inning, Saltalamacchia, Middlebrooks, and Drew combined for three straight hits, including Drew’s game-winning double to left field, scoring Saltalamacchia for the winning run.
BY THE NUMBERS: 3
It was the Sox third walk-off win of the season. They are now 2-1 in extra innings. The win snapped a season-long three-game losing streak.
QUOTE OF NOTE
“Get an out. Just grind until they tell you you’re done or until we win the game. So just try and step up and try and get some outs.” – Clayton Mortensen, on his thoughts entering the game in the ninth inning, with two outs, a runner on base, the score tied, and a 1-and-0 count on the batter.