Powered by strong starting pitching and a late rally, the Red Sox won their second straight over the Twins at Fenway Park on Sunday by a final score of 8-1. Boston has now won three of its last four games to improve to 5-4 on the season.
Michael Wacha, making his second start of the year for the Sox, thoroughly impressed while donning the yellow and blue City Connect uniforms for the first time. Over five scoreless innings of work, the veteran right-hander yielded just one hit and two walks to go along with five strikeouts on the afternoon.
Wacha took a perfect game bid into the third inning by retiring each of the first seven Minnesota batters he faced. He then issued a one-out walk to Miguel Sano in the top of the third, but stranded Sano there before taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning.
To lead things off in the fifth, Gio Urshela greeted Wacha by roping a single to center field. Once more, though, Wacha did not let things escalate and instead sat down each of the final three Twins he faced to end his day on a solid note.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 79 (52 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler featured a healthy mix of changeups, four-seam fastballs, and cutters on Sunday. Those three offerings accounted for 80% of Wacha’s workload, though he also threw eight sinkers and eight curveballs while inducing a total of seven swings-and-misses altogether.
In relief of Wacha, Matt Strahm received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora in the top of the sixth inning. The left-hander needed all of 13 pitches to retire the side there.
To that point in the contest, the Sox themselves had been stymied by Twins starter Bailey Ober. After mustering just three singles and a walk through five innings, the Boston bats finally got something going against Ober in their half of the sixth.
Rafael Devers led the inning off by reaching on a fielding error committed by Sano. He then advanced all the way to third on a hard-hit double off the bat of Xander Bogaerts. Back-to-back sacrifice flies from J.D. Martinez and Alex Verdugo gave the Red Sox their first lead of the day at 2-0.
Strahm came back out for the seventh but was pulled after yielding a one-out single to Max Kepler. Ryan Brasier was dispatched and allowed the lone runner he inherited to score on a Trevor Larnach sacrifice fly. The righty then loaded the bases with two outs, but escaped the jam by getting Kyle Garlick to fan on a 93 mph fastball that was up and in.
After Jake Diekman struck out a pair in a 1-2-3 top of the eighth, the Sox really blew things open in their half of the inning. With reliever Caleb Thielbar on the mound for the Twins, Enrique Hernandez, Devers, and Bogaerts hit three consecutive singles. Bogaerts plated Hernandez on his 44-foot base hit, then Martinez scored Devers on an RBI double off the Green Monster.
The 300th double of Martinez’s career made it a 4-1 game in favor of Boston. Trevor Story added on to that by lacing a two-run single that scored both Bogaerts and Martinez. After Story advanced to second on a Bobby Dalbec base hit, Jackie Bradley Jr. came through with an RBI single of his own. Kevin Plawecki plated the Sox’ eighth and final run (Dalbec) on a sacrifice fly.
With a sizable seven-run cushion to work with, Austin Davis got the call for the ninth and closed things out quickly to secure an 8-1 victory on Easter.
Some notes from this win:
In his last four games, Jackie Bradley Jr. has batted .385 (5-for-13) with three doubles, four RBIs, two runs scored, and two walks.
With runners in scoring position this season, J.D. Martinez is batting .333/.364/.667 with four RBIs.
Rafael Devers has recorded two or more hits in four of his last six games and is now hitting .368 with an OPS of .990 on the season.
Next up: Bundy vs. Hill
The Red and Twins will close out this four-game weekend series on Marathon Monday. Left-hander Rich Hill is slated to get the ball for Boston while right-hander Dylan Bundy is in line to do the same for Minnesota.
First pitch is scheduled for 11:10 a.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.
(Picture of Michael Wacha: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)