The Red Sox are out for a sweep Wednesday night as they hope against hope that Clay Buchholz can record his first decent outing of the season.
He'll get his chance against a Twins lineup lacking Josh Willingham and with a rookie starter in Liam Hendriks on the mound opposite him.
Can Buchholz keep the ball in the park? Can the Sox keep their offensive run going against the young Hendriks? We'll keep you up-to-date on the action as it happens in Target Field.
Red Sox 7, Twins 6, Final -- And the Red Sox win! Alfredo Aceves makes a show of it in the ninth, loading the bases, but gets a strike out of Denard Span to end the game.
Red Sox 7, Twins 6, Mid 9 -- Alfredo Aceves will have zero wiggle room as the Sox go down quietly in the ninth.
Red Sox 7, Twins 6, End 8th -- A long fly ball from Justin Morneau puts some hearts in some throats, but Marlon Byrd races back in plenty of time to make the catch on the edge of the track in dead center. A clean inning from Franklin Morales puts the Sox just three outs from victory, but those three haven't been the easiest to get in recent games.
Red Sox 7, Twins 6, Mid 8th -- It's looking like the Sox will have to survive with just the one run lead. Glen Perkins entered the game for the 8th, and had just about the best inning a pitcher can have, striking out Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, and Kevin Youkilis in order--all swinging--to bring the Twins back up still trailing by just one.
Red Sox 7, Twins 6, End 7th -- From the terror of Thomas to a quiet 1-2-3 inning from Vicente Padilla, who gets the help of a strong throw from Kevin Youkilis to just barely record the out on Ben Revere at first.
Red Sox 7, Twins 6, Mid 7th -- The last thing the Sox need right now is for the offense to go into the hole, but it's a 1-2-3 inning for the Twins--albeit with the help of a double play ball from Dustin Pedroia.
Red Sox 7, Twins 6, End 6th -- Did I jinx it? I jinxed it, didn't I? From on a roll to out of the game, Clay Buchholz completely fell apart, and now the bullpen is doing its thing, which means the Twins are back in the game.
After striking out Sean Burroughs to start the inning, Clay saw Ben Revere hit a bunt single, and that unraveled him. Alexi Cassila would single up the middle, and then a double to the wall in right from Denard Span scored the first Twins run since the second.
After a walk to Jamey Carroll it was all over for Clay Buchholz, leaving Valentine to turn to the terrible, terrible bullpen. Sending in Scott Atchison to apparently face just the one batter, Valentine saw Joe Mauer single on a ground ball, and then made the same mistake he's admitted to making before: pitching Justin Thomas in an important situation. Sure enough, Justin Morneau doubled off the awful southpaw, and suddenly the Sox found themselves in a 7-5 game.
Thomas' only other contribution to the game would be hitting Parmelee in the head, leading to a terrifying moment at home plate where Parmelee lay face down surrounded by trainers. He would leave the field on his own power, as would Thomas, replaced by Matt Albers who promptly gave up an RBI single to Trevor Plouffe before finally escaping the inning.
Red Sox 7, Twins 1, Mid 6th -- Boston goes quietly in the top of the sixth, as Swarzak has settled things down for Minnesota.
Red Sox 7, Twins 1, End 5th -- Miracle of miracles, Clay Buchholz records the 1-2-3 inning, getting all his outs on the ground for an easy fifth. That's a good sign for a team that certainly doesn't want to have to go looking for too many outs from its bullpen. With 88 pitches on his arm, Buchholz isn't too long for this game, but if he can even get a couple outs in the seventh it could mean quite a lot.
Red Sox 7, Twins 1, Mid 5th -- The Sox tack on another run thanks to a leadoff triple from Dustin Pedroia (not played terribly well by Trevor Plouffe) and a single from Adrian Gonzalez. The rest of the side went down nice-and-quiet with Anthony Swarzak coming in to end Hendriks' miserable night.
Red Sox 6, Twins 1, End 4th -- Clay Buchholz is living by the skin of his teeth right now. Another pair of one-out hits had Buchholz again staring down the barrel of a loaded gun, but managed to take out Jamey Carroll and Joe Mauer with weak contact to keep the Twins at just the one run.
Red Sox 6, Twins 1, Mid 4th -- For once, no runs for the Sox, who strand Marlon Byrd at first after an infield single. That means the outfielder has now surpassed his total number of hits for the Cubs this year in his three games with the Red Sox.
Red Sox 6, Twins 1, End 3rd -- More baserunners for Clay Buchholz, but still no more runs at least. Singles from Justin Morneau and Chris Parmelee put two on with one out, but a strikeout of Trevor Plouffe and a timely fly ball ended the inning without damage.
Red Sox 6, Twins 1, Mid 3rd -- More success for the Red Sox against young Liam Hendriks, as they score two more to build their lead back up to comfortable territories.
The two runs that would eventually come around to score were on from the get go, with Dustin Pedroia singling and Adrian Gonzalez walking. David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis would not manage to do anything more than advance the runners, with a pop out and ground out between them, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia showed he was ready to keep his hot streak going by smashing a two-out single into right field to score both runners.
Red Sox 4, Twins 1, End 2nd -- Another shaky inning for Clay Buchholz saw the righty surrender a double to Ben Revere and a single to Alexi Casilla to get the Twins on the board. Still, with all three of his outs coming on the ground, he at least seems to be away from the fly balls that have hurt him so badly of late.
Red Sox 4, Twins 0, Mid 2nd -- And just like that, the Sox are off to another amazing start. With Adrian Gonzalez having worn down Liam Hendricks in the first, the lineup started doing major damage in the second. David Ortiz got things rolling quietly enough with a 5-pitch walk, and Kevin Youkilis followed up with a ringing single to center.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia was caught looking at strikes, but Cody Ross was able to drop a hit into left for the first run of the game. Marlon Byrd seemed ready to continue the assault with a line drive, but it was hit too close to Denard Span to drop in, as the center fielder leaned over to snag the sinking ball before it hit the ground.
The big hit would ultimately come from Mike Aviles, however. Receiving a pitch away, Aviles was able to put a surprising amount of power into the ball despite reaching all the way across the plate to pull it. With the ball landing just barely into the stands, Aviles pushed three runs across at once, giving the Sox the 4-0 lead.
Red Sox 0, Twins 0, End 1st -- Clay Buchholz is out of the first without allowing any runs, but it's not for a want of trying. Allowing two walks in his first frame of work, Buchholz had to escape a bases loaded jam, getting Trevor Plouffe to ground out to end the threat.
So no runs, but if you're the Red Sox you can't be feeling too confident in him at the moment.
Red Sox 0, Twins 0, Mid 1st -- The Sox go down scoreless in the first, but not without a fight--particularly from Adrian Gonzalez. While Mike Aviles and Ryan Sweeney went down in a hurry, Dustin Pedroia would double down the left field line, giving Adrian Gonzalez a chance with a runner in scoring position. While the slugging first baseman didn't manage to bring him in, grounding out to third, he only did so after working a ridiculous 15-pitch at bat--one that started with him down 0-2.