The Twins opened up their series with the Boston Red Sox with a loss on Friday, falling 8-5 to the reigning World Champions. It was really only two innings that did them in, as a late Minnesota rally came up short. To add injury to insult, Torii Hunter was carted off the field with an apparent ankle injury.
Carlos Silva took the ball for Minnesota in the opener of the three-game set, and pitched well, but still lost his fifth game of the year. He went seven innings, allowing four runs (two earned), and striking out three.
The Red Sox got on the board first, scoring three runs in the fifth as the Twins played hot potato with the ball. Johnny Damon hit a two-out single that scored Bill Mueller, and then Jacque Jones' throw went through the infield and past Joe Mauer. Silva, who was backing up on the play, then hurried a throw to Mauer but it was errant.
Tony Graffanino scored on the errant throw, and then Damon scored when Luis Rodriguez's throw hit him in the back. When the dust cleared, the Twins had fallen behind 3-0, all because of mental errors. On the play, Mauer and Rodriguez were charged with errors.
The Twins got on the board in the seventh inning, as Mauer blasted his eighth home run of the season. Mauer is having a fine season, as he is hitting .305 and has driven in 37 runs. Lew Ford would follow up with a double, but the inning ended when Justin Morneau bounced into a double play.
The Sox answered right back though, tacking on a run in the bottom of the frame. Mueller, who has been rumored to be on his way to Minnesota for J.C. Romero, homered with one out. The dinger was his fifth of the season.
The Twinkies would score two more in the top of the eighth, with Bret Boone leading off the inning with a walk. Terry Tiffee then tripled, scoring Boone, and would score himself on a Shannon Stewart RBI groundout. The mini-rally would bring the score to 4-3, and the Twins seemed to have the momentum.
The game was put out of reach in the bottom half of the eighth, as veteran first baseman John Olerud hit a grand slam. Edgar Renteria led off the inning reaching on a Juan Castro, and then Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz each drew walks. That brought up Olerud, who made it a 8-3 game.
In the ninth, Jacque Jones would continue his hit barrage, putting a two-run homer into the stands in right. The blast would score Lew Ford, who reached on a fielder's choice. After Morneau singled, the Sox brought in Curt Schilling, who got Boone to strike out, and Tiffee to line out to end the game.
With the loss, the Twins are now 12 games behind the Chicago White Sox for first place in the American League Central. Within the Wild Card race, Minnesota is now 1.5 games behind the Oakland Athletics, and 0.5 games behind the New York Yankees.
Boone Swoon: Bret Boone went 0-3 on Friday, extending his hitless streak to 11 at-bats. In his last ten games, he is batting below .180, and looks to be on his way out.
Bartlett Returning? Jason Bartlett is tearing the cover off the ball at Triple-A Rochester, and could be in line for a call-up. Manager Ron Gardenhire did not rule it out, and bases on what happens at the trade deadline, the young infielder could be in Minnesota by August.
Hunter Ailing: Torii Hunter left the game in the first inning with a strained tendon in his ankle, the result of chasing down a David Ortiz fly ball. The slugging centerfielder, who is considered the best defensive outfielder in the American League, was leading the team with 14 home runs. On Thursday, he stole his 23rd bag of the season.
Email Brad Weiss at TwinCitiesDugout@aol.com