Cody Ross must be quite the social animal. Through his first four home runs this season, at least one teammate had always been on base, waiting at the plate to celebrate with him.
But sometimes, even Ross has to go it alone.
Ross homered twice – one two-run, one solo – tying and then giving the Boston Red Sox a 6-5 win over the Minnesota Twins Monday at Target Field. Daniel Bard picked up his first win in relief, and Alfredo Aceves recorded his third save.
Ross’ Homers Huge in Victory
The Red Sox entered the seventh inning down 5-3, still facing Twins starter Jason Marquis. Marquis had already thrown over 100 pitches when Jarrod Saltalamacchia – whose two-run golf shot in the second put the Red Sox up 3-0 – singled with one out, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire opted to stick with him.
Ross made Gardenhire pay for his error just one pitch later, crushing a shot to left field to tie the game 5-5.
The tie held up until the top of the ninth, when Gardenhire went with closer Matt Capps. Ross came up with two down in the ninth, fouled one off, then deposited a knee-high pitch just over the right field wall for the 6-5 lead.
Adrian Gonzalez went 0-3, but his first-inning sacrifice fly put the Red Sox up 1-0.
Bard Slams the Door, Aceves Keeps it Shut
After seven innings from Jon Lester, Franklin Morales started the eighth. Shortstop Jamey Carroll singled down the right field line with none out, advancing all the way to third when Sweeney bobbled the ball. Morales retired Joe Mauer (2-for-3) without allowing Carroll to score, then Bobby Valentine went to Bard.
Bard was only available in the bullpen because his start had been rained out, but he got Josh Willingham to line to third for the second out. Following an intentional walk to Justin Morneau, Bard stranded Carroll by inducing a popup to short.
Whether Bard is better than Aceves or not, Aceves is the closer, and he came out to pinch the ninth. His third save didn’t come easily, giving up a one-out single and a heart-stopping flyout to deep left, but with two down he cleanly fielded a Denard Span grounder back to the mound and underhanded it to Gonzalez for the final out.
“One Bad Inning” Costs Lester First Victory
Four starts into the season, Lester still doesn’t have a victory. He looked poised to do so Monday, starting the game with three scoreless innings, but the phrase “one bad inning” has hung around Lester’s neck his entire MLB career.
His bizarre tendency to lose it all in one inning showed up again against the Twins with one out in the fourth, when Lester gave up a walk and a single to put two men on for the first time. Lester got to two strikes and two outs on right fielder Ryan Doumit, but he left a curveball up and Doumit plated two with a double down the left field line.
Lester came within a strike of getting out of the fourth with the lead, but he left a fastball this time up in the zone, and third baseman Danny Valencia drilled it to center to put the Twins up 4-3. Minnesota went up 5-3 on a run-scoring double play in the fifth.
Despite the weak fourth inning, Lester came back to retire his final seven batters. He finished giving up five earned runs on six hits, four walks and four strikeouts in seven innings. He showed good command of all of his pitches, throwing strikes with his fastball, cutter and curveball. He threw first-pitch strikes to 75 percent of the batters he faced.
Defense Strong for Both Teams
Boston and Minnesota combined for five 6-4-3 double plays Monday night. Though the Red Sox turned three of them, the Twins turned perhaps the prettiest.
Down 5-3 in the sixth, the first two Red Sox reached. Following a fielder’s choice that put men at the corners, Ortiz hit one sharply up the middle. Carroll dove behind the second base bag to field it, then flipped to second baseman Trevor Plouffe while still on the ground.
Plouffe caught the ball barehanded, spun around as he tagged the bag and just beat Ortiz with the throw to first to retire the side and preserve the lead.