And it's back to .500 again for the Red Sox.
With an opportunity to make a run at first place in the AL East with a win in the matinee in Minnesota today, the Red Sox rallied in the ninth inning but ultimately fell to the Twins, 4-3, in 10 innings at Target Field.
Andrew Miller lost for the second time in three games when light-hitting Aaron Hicks cracked the walkoff base hit off the Sox lefty in the extra frame, driving in Kurt Suzuki who doubled earlier up the left field line.
With the count 2-2 to Hicks, Miller thought he had the Twins center fielder rung up with an inside fastball, but it was called a ball, leaving the count full. Sox catcher David Ross then came out to talk to Miller to discuss what to do next. On the very next pitch, Hicks lined a base hit right in front of Sizemore in left field for the game winner, the second Twins walkoff off Miller in the series.
“Well Suzuki gets into a hitter's count, and he doubles down the right field corner, and Andrew Miller's been throwing the ball exceptionally well, he gets a big second out, the strikeout to Parmelee, and then the 3-2 count," Red Sox manager John Farrell said in summing up the events in the 10th inning. "I know he and David [Ross] had the brief meeting at the mound, felt like he could beat him with a fastball in, and he fists one into left field for the game winner but once again, we showed again today what we showed in game one of this series what this team continuously shows and that's a willingness and a relentlessness to the group, to fight back, tie things up, and we're a swing of the bat away from walking out of here with a series win.”
Miller summed things up rather succinctly.
"It stinks," the lanky lefty said after the loss. "I feel good out there, but I blew two games, we lost the series, we lost two games in the series but my name's attached to it, so it stinks."
Miller also spoke about the conference on the mound with Ross right before he gave up the game winning hit to Hicks.
“Decided what we were going to go with, and that's it, simple as that,” Miller said.
On the final pitch of the game, Miller said: “I haven't seen the location, I was happy with the contact in a sense, every pitch you throw you try to get bad contact, fastball in, try to jam a guy, jammed him..."
In the ninth inning, the Red Sox loaded the bases with one out when David Ortiz started things off with an opposite field line drive single to left field. With one out, Jonny Gomes singled to center and Mike Carp grounded a single to right field to get the tying runs on base. After David Ross struck out swinging, the embattled Will Middlebrooks came up with two outs and hit an opposite field line drive base hit to right field driving in two to tie the game at 3-3.
Clay Buchholz gave up three runs in the second inning. He settled down after the shaky second but it was not an outing that will encourage Red Sox fans hoping to see Buchholz find the form he displayed when going undefeated heading into the All-Star game just a year ago before going down with shoulder and back issues. Buchholz pitched six innings and gave up three runs on 10 hits, three walks, to go along with six strikeouts. Buchholz has now given up 20 hits in his last 10-1/3 innings pitched.
Twins right fielder Chris Parmelee, who hit the two-run walkoff shot two nights ago, belted a two-run homer off Buchholz to put the Twins up 2-0. It would be a three-run second inning for Minnesota after Twins second baseman Brian Dozier drove in the third run on a sacrifice fly.
Phil Hughes, who came into the game as the Twins' best starter, lasted six innings as well, striking out a season-high eight Red Sox batters in giving up just one run on five hits in the outing. The Twins' bullpen did the rest, highlighted by Casey Fien, who needed just six pitches to work a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
In the fourth inning, Xander Bogaerts led things off with a soft ground ball base hit that second baseman Eduardo Escobar could not grab. After Ortiz and Napoli went down, Jonny Gomes hit a broken-bat liner into center field that put runners at first and third with two outs. Then Mike Carp lined a sharp one-hopper to Brian Dozier, who knocked it down, but the Twins second baseman could not make a play on the ball and Bogaerts scored to get the Red Sox on the board.
Ortiz Still On Target
The scorching hot David Ortiz – who had four homers in the series coming into the final game – did not crush two homers today, but he did get jumpstart the Red Sox ninth inning rally with an opposite field base hit to start the rally that tied the game. Earlier, Ortiz popped out to Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe in his first at-bat and struck out looking his second time up against Phil Hughes – frozen on a slider – making it four straight outs for Ortiz at Target Field. In the top of the sixth inning, Hughes fell behind to Big Papi 3-1, but got Ortiz to line out to right field.
Bogaerts is a Youk-alike
That 14-pitch at-bat by Xander Bogaerts against Phil Hughes in the fifth inning was the longest at-bat by a Red Sox player since Kevin Youkilis had a 14-pitch plate appearance against the Rays at Fenway on May 25, 2012. Bogaerts would fly out to center on an 87-m.p.h. slider.
Carp Call Pays Off
Mike Carp got the rare left field start for the Red Sox on Thursday. Carp came into the game batting 5-for-10 with a homer off Hughes, while Grady Sizemore was 0-for-6 in his career against Hughes. Carp lined an infield base hit in the fourth to score the first Red Sox run of the game. Carp went 2-for-4 with the RBI single in the fourth and another base hit in the ninth to keep the rally going as the Red Sox tied the game.
Gomes Makes Two Nice Grabs
In the eighth inning, Gomes went over his head on the warning track to make a spectacular catch of a fly ball off the bat of Eduardo Escobar. In the fourth inning, Gomes hustled from right to center to make another nice catch with a post-catch dive off a line drive by Aaron Hicks, taking extra bases away from the Twins' center fielder.
Twins Win Appeal
In the sixth inning, David Ross tried to nab Joe Mauer at first base and got the call from the umps as Mike Napoli appeared to apply the tag. But the Twins challenged, and the play was correctly overturned as Mauer was able to reach the bag with his hand before Napoli could tag him. The Twins had two runners on at the time, but could not push a run across as Buchholz struck out Trevor Plouffe to end the threat.