MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Eduardo Escobar had two go-ahead hits, including an RBI single that launched a four-run eighth inning for the Minnesota Twins in a 6-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.
Robby Scott (0-1), just recalled from Triple-A to make his season debut, relieved Chris Sale to start the eighth and walked the first two batters. Joe Kelly entered, and Escobar’s one-out line drive bounced in front of Jackie Bradley Jr. and skipped past the center fielder for an error as two runs scored. Robbie Grossman broke the game open with a two-run triple.
The late surge masked a classic pitching duel between Sale and Jose Berrios, the six-time All-Star against the budding ace. Sale retired the first 14 batters he faced before Ehire Adrianza’s soft roller to Rafael Devers at third base went for an infield single.
The Twins were mostly out of sorts against Sale, with bewildered players complaining to home plate umpire Jeff Nelson about the size of his strike zone. They fell behind on a two-out home run by Devers in the sixth off Berrios.
All it took was a single by Ryan LaMarre and a hit by pitch for Joe Mauer to start a rally in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Escobar drove a 1-1 slider from Sale down the left-field line for his major league-leading 31st double and a 2-1 lead. Escobar pumped his arms back and forth several times before clapping and pointing at his teammates in the dugout.
Sale finished seven innings, the 12th time in 16 starts this season he has logged at least six. This was the 11th turn in which he’s yielded two runs or fewer and his fifth double-digit strikeout performance. In his last three starts, he has allowed only 11 hits in 21 innings. Yet the Red Sox are only 8-8 with him on the mound.
Berrios had to work harder, but he was largely responsible for the Red Sox finishing 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position and stranding 10 men. He left with one out and one on in the seventh, and Trevor Hildenberger struck out American League RBI leader J.D. Martinez with runners at second and third to end that threat.
Struggling Twins right-hander Addison Reed, who has appeared in only one of the previous six games, has been at least temporarily removed from his setup role.
“I’m going to use him when I think it’s the right time. I’m not sure exactly when that’s going to be right now,” manager Paul Molitor said before the game.
Zach Duke (3-2) took the eighth inning instead and, with two outs, surrendered Sandy Leon’s tying single that drove in Devers.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora was the general manager of Puerto Rico’s national team that reached the championship game of the World Baseball Classic last year, and Berrios and Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario were two of his favorites on the squad. He greeted them warmly during batting practice.
“What they did for our country was amazing,” Cora said. “They’re like my little brothers. I really care about them.”
Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia, who has played in only three games this season because of inflammation in his left knee, has still not been cleared for baseball activities since returning to the DL three weeks ago. The lack of progress has been concerning, Cora acknowledged, but the team is trying to keep focused on the bigger picture. “It was major surgery. We didn’t know what to expect. So we are where we are now, hoping that, yeah, he’ll be back. When? We don’t know,” Cora said. … LHP Drew Pomeranz threw in the outfield before the game, his stint on the DL with biceps tendonitis almost at three weeks. The session went well, Cora said.
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana, yet to appear this season because of a slow recovery from surgery on his middle finger, threw a 35-pitch bullpen session before the game. He’ll face live hitters on Friday, another step forward after his setback last month.
Red Sox: LHP David Price (8-4, 3.76 ERA) pitches Wednesday night. He is 6-0 in his last seven starts, with two runs or fewer allowed in all but one of those, when he gave up three runs. Price is 10-3 with a 2.52 ERA in his career against the Twins.
Twins: RHP Lance Lynn (4-5, 4.98 ERA) takes the mound in the middle game of the series. He’s 3-1 with a 2.01 ERA over his last five turns, with a .195 batting average against him and 30 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings.