Twins - 000 010 014 - 6 12 0 Red Sox - 110 000 020 - 4 6 3Whether or not you think the Red Sox have any realistic shot at one of the two wild cards - I choose to keep believing as long as the math holds up - this loss has to rank among the worst of the season. Joe Mauer's three-run homer in the top of the ninth gave Minnesota the win, and sent the Red Sox to their fourth straight loss.
It was a night on which Bobby Valentine did everything right. He pulled Clay Buchholz after a brilliant seven inings (7-7-1-1-3, 103; the run was unearned) and had Andrew Miller face a few lefties. Miller failed, however, allowed a single and two walks. With the bases loaded, Valentine called on Alfredo Aceves. With the game on the line, Bobby the 5th went with his closer, regardless of the inning number. And Aceves did well, allowing only a game-tying sacrifice fly.
With the score tied 2-2, Ciriaco batted for Ryan Kalish to start the home eighth and belted a 1-0 pitch to deep left for his first home run of his career. Boston added an insurance run as Dustin Pedroia was hit by a pitch, stole second, and scored on Cody Ross's single to right.
Holding a 4-2 lead, Aceves began the ninth by striking out Brian Dozier. Alexi Casilla ripped a double down the left field line. Jamey Carroll dropped a single into shallow center, and Casilla scored. 4-3. Denard Span flied to right for the second out. Ben Revere (3-for-5) lined a single to center; Carroll stopped at second. Aceves's first pitch to Mauer got away from Shoppach and both runners moved up on the wild pitch. Aceves thought he had a game-ending (and game-winning) strike three on a 2-2 pitch, but while pitches like that had been called strikes throughout the night, home plate umpire David Rackley didn't call it this time. The ball was truly just a bit outside. Mauer clubbed the next offering into the first row of Monster Seats.
(Maybe Valentine could have brought in Craig Breslow to have a lefty face Mauer. Or maybe after the runners advanced on the wild pitch, Mauer could have been walked intentionally. But BBIing him leaves things up to Justin Morneau, who has been pretty hot in this series. The fact is that things never should have gotten to the point where Mauer gets to be a factor.)
Boston went meekly in the ninth: Aviles 5-3, Lavarnway F9; Middlebrooks P4.
The Red Sox (53-55) remain 10 GB the Yankees in the East.
Afterwards, Valentine was upbeat: "Unless they cancel the season we'll bounce back."
Jacoby Ellsbury is scratched from the original lineup with what Bobby Valentine called "a leg issue" and Jarrod Saltalamacchia returns after missing Friday's game with
Ellsbury, CFKalish, CF