Tanner Houck has career day, Alex Verdugo and Yu Chang both homer as Red Sox take series from Twins with 11-5 win

The Red Sox scored first and never looked back in a series-clinching win over the Twins on Thursday afternoon. Boston defeated Minnesota by a final score of 11-5 at Fenway Park to get back to .500 at 10-10 on the season.

With Kenta Maeda starting for the Twins, the Sox drew first blood in their half of the first. On the third pitch he saw from his former Dodgers teammate, leadoff man Alex Verdugo drilled a 386-foot solo shot to right field for his third home run of the year and the first leadoff homer of his career. The ball left Verdugo’s bat at 101.2 mph and gave Boston an early 1-0 lead.

Two innings later, the Red Sox broke it open against Twins reliever Emilio Pagan, who took over for Maeda after Maeda left the game with a left ankle contusion. Verdugo reached base on a one-out single and immediately scored on an RBI double off the bat of Rafael Devers. Masataka Yoshida followed with a run-scoring hit of his own that scored Devers and snapped an 0-for-18 skid.

Back-to-back singles from Enrique Hernandez and Triston Casas loaded the bases for Connor Wong, who drove in two with a groundball single through the left side of the infield. Jarren Duran capped off the high-scoring frame by lacing a 395-foot two-run double to center field to plate both Casas and Wong and give his side a commanding 7-0 advantage.

The Twins got one of those runs back in the top of the fifth. To that point, Red Sox starter Tanner Houck had tossed four scoreless innings out of the gate. But the right-hander ran into a bit of trouble when he gave up back-to-back ground-out doubles to Willi Castro and Max Kepler to trim the deficit down to six runs.

Houck got through the rest of the inning unscathed and the Red Sox lineup responded in the latter half of the fifth. Hernandez led off with a single off Twins reliever Jorge Alcala and — following a Casas Walk — advanced to third on a Wong flyout. Duran then drove in Hernandez from third with a sacrifice fly to center field before Chang came through with a blistering two-run home run that cleared the Green Monster in 4.2 seconds.

Chang’s second homer of the season, which had an exit velocity of 109.7 mph, put Boston up, 10-1, going into the sixth. Houck continued on with yet another scoreless frame before running into more two-out trouble in the top of the seventh. With Jose Miranda already at first base following a leadoff single, Willi Castro clubbed a 413-foot two-run home run into the right field seats to make it a 10-3 game.

Despite the way his outing ended, it was still an impressive day on the mound for Houck. The 26-year-old hurler allowed just the three runs on six hits and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts over seven innings of work to set a new career high in that category. He finished with 96 pitches (63 strikes) and induced 16 swings-and-misses while improving to 3-0 and lowering his ERA on the season to 4.29.

In relief of Houck, Kaleb Ort struck out two in a scoreless top of the eighth. Boston then went up 11-3 over Minnesota in the latter half of the inning when Yoshida plated Christian Arroyo (who reached on a pinch-hit double) with his second RBI single of the afternoon.

Ryan Brasier grinded through a ninth inning in which he surrendered two runs on four hits and a walk. But he got out of a bases-loaded jam when Casas threw out Kepler at third base to end it, thus putting the finishing touches on an 11-5 victory.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Peralta in Milwaukee

On the heels of a 5-2 homestand, the Red Sox will now embark on a six-game road trip that begins in Milwaukee on Friday night. Nick Pivetta is slated to get the start for Boston in the series opener against the National League Central-leading Brewers opposite fellow right-hander Freddy Peralta.

First pitch from American Family Field is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN+. The other two games will begin at 7:10 p.m. and 2:10 p.m. eastern time, respectively.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)


Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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