Twins rough up Wakefield, Sox
Because of a scheduling quirk, the Twins arrived in Boston Wednesday night and were able to watch the Red Sox’ 13-inning marathon against the Angels, as well as the Thursday afternoon game at Fenway, from their hotel rooms.
While the weary Sox were dragging their heels and losing two to the Angels, the Twins were kicking up their heels at the Westin Hotel.
Last night, it was the Twins’ turn to take their whacks. And they did precisely that, lashing 12 hits — including nine against starter Tim Wakefield, resulting in eight runs — in a 9-2 drubbing of the Sox before a Fenway Park crowd of 37,798, who watched their team bungle its way to a third consecutive loss in this 11-game homestand, getting outscored, 25-5, in the process.
Shortstop Jed Lowrie committed a pair of errors (his third and fourth of the season) that resulted in a pair of runs, and Wakefield and Alfredo Aceves, called up from Pawtucket yesterday, balked in a pair of runs, the first time the Sox have done that since 1949.
The first, by Wakefield, resulted in the second-inning ejection of manager Terry Francona, who got a quick heave-ho from plate umpire Angel Hernandez.
Francona may draw a fine and possibly a suspension from Major League Baseball for bumping third base umpire Joe West, the crew chief, who interceded when Francona heatedly attempted to get an explanation from Hernandez, whose call nullified an inning-ending rundown of Denard Span.
As Francona stomped off the field, he flung his wad of gum to the ground in Hernandez’s direction.
“There’s a lot of frustrations there,’’ said Kevin Youkilis. “I don’t know why guys are getting ejected left and right. I mean, I understand a balk you can’t go argue, but he was just asking to see what was the problem. I don’t know. Angel threw him out real quick. I have no idea why he threw him out, but it’s just part of the game. Tomorrow’s another day and we can’t worry about that. We just have to go out and play good baseball.’’
Unlike Wednesday’s eight-hour ordeal, which ended at 2:45 a.m., this one was a quick demise that took 2 hours and 37 minutes, two minutes longer than Wednesday night’s rain delay.
After Wakefield gave up a one-out solo homer in the first inning to Trevor Plouffe, in his first at-bat of the season after being called up Wednesday, things quickly began to unravel for the Sox starter.
He loaded the bases in the second with a leadoff walk to Michael Cuddyer and singles by Danny Valencia and Ben Revere. The 44-year-old knuckleballer was on the verge of escaping the jam when he got Drew Butera to fly to right and Alexi Casilla to fan.
But when Span’s sharp grounder got past first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (“I went a little bit to the hole and it hit a hard spot and kicked up a little bit,’’ he said) and scored Cuddyer and Valencia to make it 3-0, it set into motion a string of events that resulted in a run-scoring balk, a nullified pickoff, and Francona’s ejection.
“I heard Angel told me I stepped toward home plate,’’ Wakefield said. “I watched it. It’s clearly a gap between both my feet. That didn’t cost us the game. It was a bad call at the wrong time, but I loaded the bases [with] no outs, got a ground ball that found the hole and scored two runs, and that was pretty much it.’’
J.D. Drew hit a leadoff homer off Twins starter Scott Baker in the second, pulling the Sox to within 4-1.
Then in the fourth, Gonzalez hit a rocket off Baker that bounced off the Sports Authority sign in left, making it 4-2.
Wakefield departed in the fifth after the Twins erupted for four runs on three hits. Cuddyer singled to load the bases with one out and Valencia followed with a two-run double to left that chased Wakefield and made it 6-2. Two more unearned runs were charged to Wakefield when Lowrie mishandled Butera’s grounder up the middle.
Lowrie said he was screened on the play. “But it’s still not an excuse,’’ he said. “Still got to make those plays.’’
“It wasn’t a good night,’’’ said Wakefield, who issued four walks. “Just one of those nights. I tried to put a lot on my shoulders and get us deep in the game and I didn’t do it, and I’m disappointed in that.
“The bullpen has been taxed the last couple of games and I take pride in taking up innings and didn’t get that done tonight.’’
Aceves entered and struck out Revere for the second out. Butera then ripped the grounder that Lowrie couldn’t handle.
Aceves was called for a balk in the sixth, scoring Plouffe for Minnesota’s final run. “It was my bad,’’ Aceves said.
The Sox find themselves four games below .500 (14-18) with the first week of May almost in the books.
“Yeah, it is [disappointing],’’ Gonzalez said. “One of the things we’ve got to do is play better baseball overall. We’ve got to pay attention to details. We won’t start winning until we start doing the little things.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.