MINNEAPOLIS -- Francisco Liriano often looked like the pre-Tommy John surgery version of his former self in an 8-0 win over the Red Sox today at Target Field.
But the Red Sox never seemed to have their head in the game either. Their run prevention defense committed three errors and their offense suffered from run deprivation.
"It was a very ugly game and it started with me," said Sox starter Tim Wakefield, who allowed 10 hits and five earned runs in 5-1/3 innings.
The Red Sox tried to use a righty-dominated lineup against Liriano, but right from the start of the game that wasn't necessarily going to work when Mike Cameron, suffered what the team announced before the game as an abdominal strain. Cameron did not travel with the team back to Boston after the game and was at a Minneapolis hospital having tests to rule things like appendicitis. Cameron seemed to be in pain as he spoke to reporters after the game.
Jacoby Ellsbury again missed the game with bruised and sore ribs. He said after the game that he tried to hit off a tee, but could give it no more than 10 percent. He said he will be re-examined by Sox doctors on Friday and more tests might be done. Ellsbury hurt himself in a collision last Sunday in Kansas City. It was hoped Ellsbury could play this weekend against Tampa Bay, but when asked if he thought he could play Friday night, 'Not if I feel like I do now."
Ellsbury said that it hurt when he took a deep breath, but that the area around the soreness was getting better.
With Ellsbury and Cameron out, the Sox may have to dip down to Pawtucket for Josh Reddick.
When Cameron was scratched Hall went to center and lefthanded hitting Jeremy Hermida was inserted into the No. 9 spot in the order in left field. Hall, who hadn't played in center since 2007, looked uncomfortable and committed an error on J.J. Hardy's RBI single in the second inning when he misfielded the ball, but it didn't cost the Sox.
"The ball just kind of snaked on me," Hall said. "Otherwise I felt OK out there."
The Sox elected to sit the struggling David Ortiz, who was 1-for-3 career against Liriano in favor of righthanded hitting Mike Lowell, who went 1-for-3. Liriano seemed to gain confidence when the Red Sox left runners at second and third with one out in the first inning, a tell-tale sign of what was to come. Dustin Pedroia had singled and Victor Martinez doubled to left field with one out, but neither Kevin Youkilis (strikeout) or Adrian Beltre could get a hit to get at least one run and that seemed to bring some life to Liriano's outing. The Twins' lefty went seven innings and allowed only four hits and two walks while striking out eight in 96 pitches.
The Twins took advantage of the confidence spike with a run in the second inning with two outs against Tim Wakefield (0-1) when hits by Jim Thome, Jason Kubel and J.J. Hardy produced the Twins' lead. Wakefield lasted 5-1/3 innings, allowing 10 hits and five earned runs with no offense and a subpar defense behind him. That was all the Twins needed. The rest was gravy.
The Twins scored three runs in fifth when No. 9 hitter Nick Punto, who had three hits, doubled to left field to lead off the inning. He came in on Denard Span's bloop single to left. The Sox, with one out, decided to walk Joe Mauer intentionally, but that move backfired when another former MVP, Justin Morneau, singled to right scoring Span. Michael Cuddyer's sacrifice fly scored the fourth Twins' run.
Wakefield, who had pitched seven effective innings in a 3-2 win over Kansas City over the weekend, was fortunate not to allow a run back in the fourth when Victor Martinez committed a throwing error when he retrieved a wild pitch and overthrew second base allowing Cuddyer to advance to third with two outs. The in the sixth, Beltre's throw on Hardy's grounder was way off the mark at first puling Kevin Youkilis off the bag in what should have been the second out. Punto followed with a single and Span doubled scoring both Hardy and Punto. Cuddyer smacked a two-run homer in the seventh that just cleared the left field fence off lefty reliever Scott Schoeneweis for Minnesota's final two runs.
The outing was important for Wakefield because Daisuke Matsuzaka is eligible to come off the disabled list on April 18. It appears Matsuzaka will make one more start in the minors but that the team will likely get him back up to the majors some time next week. While there's been some talk of a six-man rotation, it doesn't appear to have legs. That can only mean one of the starters would have to be removed for the bullpen. That could be Wakefield.
"He looked good early on," said Twins outfielder Denard Span, "but he started to get his pitches up and we were able to get some hits off him. But he's always tough. He's not an easy pitcher to face."
Boston was able to load the bases in the eighth against the Twins, but Beltre knocked into an inning-ending double play, preserving the Twins' shutout.
Ron Mahay came on to retire the Red Sox in order in the ninth inning to end the frustrating events for the Red Sox this afternoon.