MINNEAPOLIS — There is no such thing as a bad victory, especially on the road and especially when you’re trying to get to .500.
So that the final score was Red Sox 7, Twins 6 is all that really matters.
But this game illustrated again just how vulnerable the Sox are, even against a team like Minnesota that struggles to score runs.
Ahead, 7-1, in the sixth inning, Clay Buchholz ran into trouble and put two runners on base with one out. Scott Atchison, Justin Thomas, and Matt Albers followed him to the mound and by the time they were done, the Twins had scored five runs.
Vicente Padilla and Franklin Morales quieted the Twins, each throwing a perfect inning. Alfredo Aceves was called on to close and the chaos started again. He loaded the bases but struck out Denard Span to finally end a game that was more eventful than it had to be.
The Twins fielded what looked like a spring training lineup. Their last five hitters — Chris Parmelee, Trevor Plouffe, Sean Burroughs, Ben Revere, and Alexi Casilla — were 28 of 134 (.209) with no home runs and two RBIs on the season.
But that group nearly did the Sox in during the sixth inning.
Buchholz allowed one-out singles by Revere and Casilla. After Span lined an RBI double to right field, Buchholz walked Jamey Carroll to load the bases and Bobby Valentine pulled him out of the game.
Atchison got Joe Mauer to ground back to the mound. But the ball deflected off Atchison’s foot and into center field for a two-run single.
“If I had gotten out of the way, they told me it would have been a double play,” Atchison said.
In came Thomas, a rookie lefthander who has looked overmatched all season. His first pitch was a hanging slider that Justin Morneau drove to the wall in right-center for an RBI double. Thomas then hit Parmelee in the helmet to load the bases.
Of the 25 batters Thomas has faced this season, 13 have reached base. With lefthander Rich Hill expected to be activated off the disabled list in the coming days, Thomas may not be long for the roster.
Albers gave up an RBI single to center by Plouffe on his first pitch. But he got Burroughs to ground into a double play to finally end the inning. That was probably the biggest pitch of the game.
“I jammed him and that was exactly what we needed,” Albers said. “Just getting out of that inning with a lead seemed huge. We figured out how to win. That’s better than the alternative.”
True enough. But how many more games like this can they stand? Ben Cherington has some work to do.
A few notes:
• Cody Ross left the game in the sixth inning after twisting his left knee in his first at-bat in the second inning when he had an RBI single. “I’m not even sure how I did it, but I’m fine,” Ross said. “We’re just being careful.”
• Valentine praised Buchholz and the righthander said he felt good about his start. But five runs on 10 hits and three walks is nothing to get too excited about. Buchholz saw three of his score after he left the game. But his 1.92 WHIP in four starts is alarming.
• It was the first sweep for the Sox since they took three straight from Seattle last July 22-24.
• The Sox had 24 runs on 40 hits (15 for extra bases) in the series.
• Mike Aviles is hitting .381 as the leadoff hitter with four home runs.
• Franklin Morales has now gone 20 games (and 19 innings) without giving up a run on the road. He is now your unofficial eighth-inning man.
That’s it from Minnesota. Off to Chicago in the morning.