An unexpected off-day on Monday and frigid, snowy conditions in Minneapolis on Tuesday could not halt the Red Sox’ early-season momentum, as the club extended its winning streak to seven consecutive games following a 4-2 come-from-behind victory over the Twins at Target Field.
Improving to 7-3 to start the 2021 campaign, the Sox become the first team since the 1991 Mariners to begin a season with a losing streak of three-plus games and follow it by winning seven-plus games in a row.
Tuesday’s win in Minnesota was not easy to come by. The Sox were held off the scoreboard until the fifth inning and did not plate the go-ahead run until their half of the eighth.
Bobby Dalbec was responsible for the two-most important Boston runs of the afternoon.
The 25-year-old slugger came into the week in the midst of a 3-for-25 slump to begin his first season in the majors, but came through in the clutch during his first visit to Target Field by driving in the tying and go-ahead runs on a pair of RBI doubles in the fifth and eighth innings.
Christian Arroyo was the one who scored on both of those two-base hits from Dalbec. The young second baseman enjoyed a successful day at the plate batting out of the eight-hole, as he he went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored.
Arroyo also turned a nifty double play in the sixth when he fielded a 105 mph scorcher off the bat of Andrelton Simmons while playing in a defensive shift behind second base.
Renfroe gets on the board while Devers stays hot
Before Dalbec’s heroics, the Red Sox first got on the board courtesy of Hunter Renfroe.
With two outs in the top half of the fifth, the right-handed power threat that is Renfroe took a 1-1 slider from Twins starter J.A. Happ 416 feet deep to dead center field for his first home run in a Sox uniform.
Fast forward to the ninth, after Boston had already taken a 3-2 lead over Minnesota, and Rafael Devers wrapped things up by extending his homer-streak to four consecutive games.
The 24-year-old deposited a 1-2, 89 mph slider from Twins reliever Jorge Alcala 404 feet over the left field wall — with an exit velocity of 108.4 mph off the bat — for his fifth big fly of the season.
Perez gets off to shaky start, but pulls through with five strong frames
Martin Perez’s second start of the year looked like it was going to be a short one, for the veteran southpaw allowed four of the first six hitters he faced on Tuesday to reach base.
Command issues for Perez resulted in the Twins jumping out to an early 2-0 lead in the first, but the Venezuelan-born hurler was able to settle in once he got more adjusted to the freezing temperatures.
That being the case because over his final four innings of work, Perez only faced more than four hitters in one frame on one occasion en route to keeping his former team off the board through the end of the fifth.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 88 (49 strikes), Perez’s next start should come against the White Sox back at Fenway Park on Sunday.
Bullpen holds steady, preserves winning streak
Between Hirokazu Sawamura, Adam Ottavino, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Matt Barnes, the Red Sox bullpen combined to toss four scoreless, one-hit innings of relief on Wednesday afternoon.
Barnes, in particular, was sharp once again as the right-hander needed all of 14 pitches to retire the side in order in the ninth, pick up his first save of the season, and preserve his side’s 4-2 series-opening win.
Next up: Straight doubleheader on Wednesday
The Red Sox and Twins will be playing a straight doubleheader on Wednesday to make up for Monday’s game being postponed.
Each game of the twin-bill will be seven innings long with the second contest beginning approximately 30 minutes after the first one ends.
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is slated to get the ball for Boston in Game 1, and he will be opposed by fellow righty Kenta Maeda.
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, meanwhile, will start Game 2 for the Sox. He will be opposed by Twins ace right-hander Jose Berrios.
First pitch of the first game Wednesday is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Red Sox will be going for their eighth straight win, and then their ninth if they come out on top in Game 1.
(Picture of Hunter Renfroe and Rafael Devers: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)