The Twins were able to get to the Red Sox's Josh Beckett, leading off each of the first five innings with a hit, and four times getting that runner to score. After the first inning, although a Jason Bartlett single followed by a Jason Kubel triple scored a run early, my hopes were not high, as the Twins lost Kubel at home and Torii Hunter on a strike-em-out throw-em-out. Those squandered opportunities looked bad when the Red Sox scored two off of Boof Bonser in the bottom of the inning. Bonser settled down enough to win the game, however, allowing just one more run on a David Ortiz solo home run. For the Twins, Kubel and Garrett Jones both had solo homers, Jones' being a bomb to straight-away centerfield.
Bonser's first inning would not have been as bad, though, if it were not for Matthew LeCroy. As I mentioned last time he played, he is simply not a capable Major Leaguer, no matter how nice or positive he is. On a third strike in the dirt to Dustin Pedroia, LeCroy threw the ball just far enough from the bag that Garrett Jones had to come off to make the catch, despite having plenty of time to throw. That was made even more disappointing by the fact that Bonser had thrown eight straight strikes to Pedroia, the last six being fouled off. LeCroy also allowed three stolen bases; yes, on two of them nobody covered, but I feel like it would have been played differently had someone else been behind the plate. And at the plate, LeCroy was no better. He looked foolish in all three of his strikeouts, getting way out in front of breaking pitches, and his fourth at bat resulted in a double play where Julio Lugo probably could have run from second to first and still gotten him out.
If you noticed in that paragraph, I mentioned that Garrett Jones was playing first base. At first I was surprised at this, but then I remembered that it was only this year that he started playing in the outfield consistently. In his previous five professional seasons, all in the minor leagues, he played first base in all but 34 games.
Joe Nathan had us all hanging on the edge of our seats after he induced a two-out pop-out from Dustin Pedroia in the eighth with two runners in scoring position. Following that, in the ninth, he loaded the bases with a double and two walks (one intentional) with just one out. Fortunately, he battled and struck out Jason Varitek along with a quick K of Kevin Youkilis to end the game. No matter how you slice it, Nathan had a gutsy four-out performance today. Said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, "He made some really good pitches when he had to."
The last note today is something that did not take place in the Twins game, but was still of great importance to me. If you've read the previous days' entries, you know that I am speaking of the strikeout race. Scott Kazmir set down ten Yankees with strikeouts to push himself ahead of Johan Santana for the league lead. Also of note, Jake Peavy is scheduled to make another start this Sunday on three days' rest, although presumably he would not if the Padres have clinched a playoff spot (or perhaps have been eliminated).