Red Sox

4 takeaways as Red Sox rally late vs. Twins, but fall as bullpen struggles again

Kyle Schwarber's first homer at Fenway tied the game late but wasn't enough.

Red Sox Twins
Josh Donaldson of the Minnesota Twins returns to the dugout after hitting a two-run home run in the tenth inning of a game against the Red Sox. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Here are the takeaways, after the Red Sox rallied against the Twins on Wednesday but came up short — falling 9-6 in 10 innings after a shot at a wild victory trailed off quickly.

The Big Picture

The Red Sox’s offense never got going against Twins starter Bailey Ober, who gave up four hits and no runs in five innings. The Twins, meanwhile, jumped on top in the second when Andrelton Simmons singled to drive in a run. They tacked on another in the third with Miguel Sanó’s monstrous homer, and Jorge Polanco drilled a two-run shot in the fourth.

The Red Sox threatened in the seventh and scored when Christian Vázquez drove in Travis Shaw with a single up the middle but couldn’t capitalize further. They tacked on another when Hunter Renfroe singled off the Monster in the eighth.


Then chaos ensued. In the ninth, with a runner on base, Kyle Schwarber blasted a homer to straight center — his first homer at Fenway Park since the team acquired him at the trade deadline.

With nobody out, the Red Sox got runners to first and second, and the winning run advanced to third when J.D. Martinez hit a sacrifice fly to right. But Alex Verdugo struck out and Renfroe popped out to end the inning.

That left the door open for the Twins, who took full advantage in their second shot at Hansel Robles in as many nights. Josh Donaldson hit a two-run homer almost immediately, putting a massive dent in the Red Sox hopes, and Jake Cave connected for a three-run shot that made it a 9-4 contest.

The Red Sox got two runs back in the bottom of the frame, but it wasn’t enough to rally a second time.

Star of the Game

Josh Donaldson — 2-for-5, two RBIs, one run, one homer.

Cave’s homer sent fans to the exits, but Donaldson’s two-run shot — especially given the Red Sox’s failure to capitalize on a chance to win in the ninth — was a deflating moment for the Red Sox.

What It Means

The A’s were off on Wednesday, so the Red Sox dropped just half a game in the standings. They now trail the Yankees by three games in the AL East.


1. It’s impossible not to see parallels between the Red Sox’s improbable late rally on Wednesday and the team that rallied repeatedly early in the season. However, it’s equally impossible to ignore how the team couldn’t generate the final 90 feet it needed in the ninth inning.


With a rally and a victory, the conversation around the Red Sox might have shifted dramatically. Instead, they dropped another disappointing game as the bullpen continued to look like a real issue.

“It came out to one of the things we’ve been preaching from the get-go, put the ball in play with a man on third and less that two outs, and we didn’t do that,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said after the game. “[Verdugo] has been swinging the bat well. Just, in that situation, he chased their pitches and didn’t make contact, and they put some good swings on Robles, and that was it.”

2. In hindsight, Schwarber’s homer felt like a real opportunity missed — a chance for the Red Sox to shake off some of the disappointment of the trade deadline with help from their biggest acquisition.

After the game, Schwarber said he enjoyed the homer at the time as Red Sox fans erupted around him.

“Fenway was rocking,” Schwarber said. “I was, in the moment, very excited. Kind of took it in rounding the bases … The result wasn’t the result that we wanted, but I can tell you this team wants to put W’s up there for this city.’


3. Alex Verdugo might want a do-over on Wednesday night, even though he went 2-for-5 and scored a run. One of the hits was a line drive off the wall in left which Verdugo — based on his reaction — clearly thought was a home run. Instead, the Twins gunned the ball back to the infield, and Verdugo — who took a wide turn around first — was thrown out.

Then in the ninth — with one out, a runner on third and a real shot at redemption — Verdugo struck out on three straight pitches. That set up the Red Sox’s disappointment in the final frame.

After the game, Cora bemoaned the team’s fundamentals as a whole.

“It’s an area we’ve been bad,” Cora said. “Forget the outs, we didn’t run out of the box, it would have been a different game early on. Obviously they didn’t want to do that, but it’s how I’ve been saying, it feels like sometimes we’re not doing enough, because it just keeps happening. It’s on them, it’s on us, as a group we’re not doing a good job of that. Those things you can control. …

“At this stage, it’s tough to watch. It’s not acceptable we talked about it, but it keeps happening.”

4. Sanó’s homer was the longest of the season so far in Major League Baseball, a 495-foot blast that cleared Fenway Park comfortably.

Here’s another look.

Sometimes all you can do is tip your cap.


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