MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Will Middlebrooks gave Boston a comeback victory the night before with a big swing. This time, he dropped down a bunt to advance the go-ahead run.
After losing 93 games last season, the Red Sox aren’t worried about style. A win is a win.
Jonny Gomes hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning to lift the Red Sox past the Minnesota Twins 3-2 on Friday night.
“We don’t want to be the heart-attack kids, but it’s a good character check for us right away,” Gomes said.
The Red Sox have won three straight after losing 10 of their previous 14 games, while the Twins have dropped three in a row after winning six of nine.
Twins reliever Josh Roenicke (1-1) gave up a single and a walk to open the 10th. After the sacrifice by Middlebrooks, Stephen Drew was intentionally walked to load the bases. Then Gomes sent a drive to center field, where Aaron Hicks caught the ball but double-clutched on his throw after bumping into left fielder Oswaldo Arcia. Hicks didn’t have a chance to get the speedy Dustin Pedroia.
“I would have liked to have seen Hicks come up clean with that one and have a shot at throwing him out,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
At Tampa Bay on Thursday, Middlebrooks hit a three-run double in the ninth to give Boston a 4-3 victory. The only prior sacrifice of the second-year third baseman’s entire professional career came in 2008 for Class-A Lowell, but manager John Farrell didn’t hesitate to call for the bunt.
“He’s a very good athlete. He’s got good hand-eye coordination,” Farrell said. “Knowing that it wasn’t part of his game as an offensive player, still I thought the game situation called for it. And he executed it perfectly.”
Alex Wilson (1-0) picked up the victory by getting the last out of the ninth and Koji Uehara threw a perfect 10th for his first save, with closers Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey both on the disabled list.
Yes, the Red Sox relievers had a big hand in this, too, after Clay Buchholz recovered from an early two-run homer by Pedro Florimon, just the second time the right-hander was taken deep this season.
Buchholz walked three, including one in the fifth while the Twins loaded the bases with one out. But struggling slugger Josh Willingham took a called third strike, and Justin Morneau flied out to left field at medium depth. Morneau’s 11-game hitting streak ended.
Starting with Willingham, the Red Sox retired 17 straight batters to finish the game.
“We’ve got a good staff. That’s really what it comes down to,” said Buchholz, who struck out nine batters over seven innings, including five in a row spanning the first and second frames. He was stuck with a no-decision for the third straight start and couldn’t match Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore with the second 7-0 record in the majors this year.
Buchholz’s ERA, second-lowest among American League qualifiers, actually rose nine points to 1.78.
“Buch’s throwing the ball really well. I just want to pick up wherever he leaves off,” said Andrew Miller, who struck out three and went five up and five down.
Florimon also had a hand in three double plays induced over six innings by Twins starter Vance Worley, who gave up just one unearned run on David Ortiz’s RBI single. The shortstop made a slick pivot and quick throw to end the third and the fifth on grounders hit by Pedroia.
Florimon had a chance to start a fourth, with Brian Duensing pitching in the seventh, but Jacoby Ellsbury’s sharp bouncer glanced off his glove as he tried to make a sliding stop. The ball rolled into center field for a single, and Gomes — who led off with a walk — scored to tie the game at 2.
With Joe Mauer and his 14-game hitting streak on the bench because of a stiff back, the Twins had only two players in the lineup entering the game with a batting average better than Florimon’s .247. But Trevor Plouffe doubled off the wall to start the third, and with one out Florimon drove a first-pitch curveball just inside the foul pole and just over the right-field wall to put the Twins up 2-1.
Buchholz has finished seven innings in all but one of his nine starts this year, against the Twins at home two weeks ago, and allowed more than two runs in only one turn, also in that game when the Twins scored four times against him. Buchholz’s last home run surrendered was in his first start on April 3.
“Team wins. That’s what this game’s about. There’s absolutely no disappointment,” he said.
NOTES: Morneau, whose 17 RBIs are the most in the majors in May, dropped to 6 for 8 with 13 RBIs with the bases loaded this season. … Red Sox backup catcher David Ross, on the 7-day DL due to post-concussion symptoms, had an exam pushed back until Monday. He is still light-headed and fatigued. … The Red Sox will send RH Ryan Dempster (2-4, 3.75 ERA) to the mound on Saturday, opposite LH Scott Diamond (3-3, 4.08 ERA) of the Twins. Both of them gave up six runs and took the loss in their last start.