The Boston Red Sox will try to extend their winning streak to 10 straight games when they attempt to complete a four-game series sweep of the two-time defending American League Central Division champion Minnesota Twins on Thursday afternoon in Minneapolis.
Right-hander Garrett Richards (0-1, 10.29 ERA), who is 2-1 with a 3.02 ERA in seven games and six career starts against the Twins, will start for Boston while right-hander Michael Pineda (1-0, 1.64) will start for Minnesota, which has lost five in a row. Pineda is 5-5 with a 4.00 ERA in 13 career starts against the Red Sox.
Boston, which began the season with three consecutive losses to the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park, hasn’t lost since. The Red Sox swept a doubleheader on Wednesday at Target Field, holding on for a 3-2 victory in the opener and then taking advantage of some uncharacteristic wildness by Jose Berrios to score six runs in the fifth inning of a 7-1 victory in the nightcap.
Alex Cora picked up his 200th win as a Red Sox manager in the first game while outfielder Alex Verdugo went 5-for-8 with a home run and three RBIs in the two games and also made a game-ending diving catch of a Luis Arraez sinking line drive to end the first game.
Cora became the 19th manager in Red Sox history to win 200 games and did it in 335 games. Only Joe McCarthy (323 in 1950), Don Zimmer (326 in 1978), Bill Carrigan (327 in 1915) and Terry Francona (334 in 2006) accomplished the feat in fewer games, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
“To win both games, win the series, it makes it special,” said Cora. “We know we have a good baseball team, and we have to keep working on it, we have to keep getting better. But days like today, they’re very gratifying.
“This is not about me. Without the players, without the organization, I’m not a big league manager. So, this is more about them than me.”
“It’s pretty special,” Verdugo said of his team’s current winning streak. “I feel like, from one through nine, any of the guys can hit a home run. But also, not only that, they can tap into a professional at-bat and shoot the ball the other way or go with the pitch. This winning streak, everybody’s had their moments. That’s how you become a good ball team and keep winning.”
Minnesota, meanwhile, has dropped five straight home games for the first time since Rocco Baldelli took over as manager in 2019. The Twins are just 1-for-24 with runners in scoring position in the series.
“Obviously we’re not playing winning baseball right now, but it feels like with the exception of this last game, we’ve had opportunities to win essentially every game we’ve played this year,” said Baldelli. “So if we keep competing like that, I think the pieces are going to fall just fine for us.”
One positive for the Twins on Wednesday was the return of third baseman Josh Donaldson from a hamstring injury he suffered on Opening Day at Milwaukee. Donaldson was activated from the injured list just before the second game and singled, walked and scored Minnesota’s lone run.
“Today, I felt like I saw the ball pretty well,” Donaldson said. “Was able to get on base a couple of times for us, score a run. That’s kind of part of my game. And whenever I get dialed in, hopefully start driving some balls as well.”
–Field Level Media