David Ortiz is a lifetime .327 hitter with 11 home runs and 31 RBI against the Minnesota Twins. Tonight he carried the Red Sox’ offense with four hits, including a mammoth blast to the upper deck in right field and a go-ahead RBI single in the 9th inning.
Down 5-1 in the sixth, the Sox were in need of some offense. Carl Crawford started the inning off with a triple to center, getting his 8th hit in 12 at bats. After Adrian Gonzalez drove Crawford in with a sacrifice fly, Dustin Pedroia singled to center. With the hit, Pedroia has now hit safely in 45 of 48 games, including four in a row.
Then came Papi; his roaring two run shot cut the deficit to 5-4. It was Ortiz’ team-leading 22nd homer of the year. After that home run, Jarrod Saltalamacchia followed suite by homering to right, knotting the contest up at five apiece.
“That’s David,” said Saltalamacchia. “He picked us up tonight. We just go out there and play the game.”
With the score tied at 6-6 in the top of the ninth, Ortiz delivered yet again. The slugger showed some finesse and patience, hitting a flair to left center field, driving in pinch runner Darnell McDonald.
“I just tried to calm down and get that pitch,” said Ortiz.
Similar to what transpired in the 6th, Saltalamacchia produced after Ortiz, providing an insurance run.
“David wants to see everyone do well,” added Saltalamacchia. “For him to go out and pick the team up was great.”
Jonathan Papelbon closed the game out in fashion, striking out Danny Valencia and Delmon Young, and inducing a ground out to second by pinch hitter Ben Revere. The closer two-stepped his way to his 25th save of the season.
With the win, the Red Sox improved to 34-21 away from Fenway Park. They also extended their winning streak to three games, fresh off a thrilling 3-2 walk-off win over the Yankees the night before.
Tim Wakefield had a chance to pick up his 200th career win. The knuckleballer was on his game for the most part, with the exception of a tumultuous third inning where he gave up three runs. Wakefield struck out four in seven innings and had a chance to pick up number 200. The 45-year old threw first pitch strikes to 21 out of 28 batters.
Alfredo Aceves gave up an RBI single to Jason Kubel in the 8th, making the score 6-6, and thus depriving Wakefield of the milestone. Aceves then settled down and ultimately picked up the win, improving to 8-1 on the season.
Scott Baker was steady for the Twins through five innings, merely allowing an RBI single to the fuming hot Marco Scutaro in the second. Scutaro connected on a whopping seventh hit in a row, driving in Ortiz. With the exception of that lone blemish, Baker was efficient through five, striking out five Red Sox hitters and inducing many ground balls. Then in the 6th everything fell apart for the right-hander, as he surrendered four runs.
Baker came into the contest with a tremendous 5-0 record and 0.26 ERA at newly constructed Target Field. 8-6 with a 3.01 ERA on the season, Baker has been a bright spot for the injury-riddled Twins.
The Twins’ offense was paced by right fielder Jason Kubel, who went three for four with a home run to right field off Wakefield. Trevor Plouffe chipped in with two hits and also scored two runs, while veteran slugger Jim Thome added an RBI double and scored a run.
Jed Lowrie returned for the Red Sox, after being placed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury on June 15th. He went one for four in his return, playing third base. Jacoby Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Gonzalez all ignited the offensive attack with two hits apiece.
Reliever Glen Perkins (3-2) gave up a single to Gonzalez before being replaced by closer Joe Nathan. Nathan allowed an infield single to Pedroia as well as the decisive hit to Ortiz and the slicer to left by Saltalamacchia. Pedroia is batting .331 in the seventh inning or later, including a menacing .388 since May 7th.