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In the bottom of the sixth inning of Wednesday night’s Red Sox game, things began to unravel as they have to this point all season. Entering the inning with a great 7-1 advantage due to another strong offensive showing early, the Sox surrendered five runs to the 5-14 Minnesota Twins, changing the blowout into a tight 7-6 game with little hope that the atrocious Boston bullpen could hold on. The difference tonight was that the relief core, which included six different pitchers after starter Clay Buchholz did manage to close out the 7-6 win.
The Sox got things started as they have been recently with runs early and often. A three-run home run by Mike Aviles capped a four-run second. It was Aviles’ only hit on the night but he still holds a remarkable .328 average, and has found significant comfort in the leadoff spot as of late.
In the third, Jarrod Saltalamacchia delivered a big two-run single, scoring both Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez to extend the lead to 6-1. Pedroia was 3-4 with a single, double and triple, raising his average to .310. Despite a combined 2-10 from Gonzalez, David Ortiz, and Ryan Sweeney, all three hitters still also hold averages above .300 including Ortiz hitting .424.
The Twins rally began with a bunt single from the pesky Ben Revere. Alexi Casilla followed with a base hit of his own before Denard Span delivered an RBI double to right. After then walking Jamey Carroll, Buchholz was relieved by Scott Atchison. Twins star catcher Joe Mauer hit an odd two-run single which deflected off of Atchison and found its way into left field.
Justin Thomas was brought in to face Justin Morneau who doubled in another run, cutting the Sox lead to 7-5. After a hit by pitch, Matt Albers came in, surrendering another RBI base hit making it 7-6 before the inning finally ended with a double play.
Again the Sox bullpen amazes in the worst way possible. Things didn’t exactly get much better when Alfredo Aceves came in to hold the same 7-6 lead in the ninth. After getting the first out, he allowed a walk to Trevor Plouffe and a base hit to pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit. A ground out moved the runners over before Aceves hit Casilla with a pitch to load the bases. With the tying run 90 feet away and two outs, Aceves struck out Span to end the game and improving the Sox to 7-10 on the year.
Clearly this was the definition of an ugly win. The offense continues to scorch opposing starting pitching but then seems to become relatively quiet as the game moves on, with the Sox being held scoreless by the three Minnesota relievers. But at this stage of the season with a team playing as poorly as the Red Sox are, wins are wins and they’ll take them however they can get them. Next up they travel to Chicago to face off with the White Sox starting tomorrow night, when Felix Doubront takes on Philip Humber, who fired a perfect game against the Seattle Mariners in his last start.