Dustin Pedroia tried to put the offense on his back, but Rick Porcello let them down. Red Sox swept.
Top Play (WPA): The top two plays in the game by WPA go to Twins hitters Aaron Hicks and Torii Hunter. The top play was Hicks’ two-run homer in the fourth (.179), which put his team up 5-2 and proved to be the winning runs. While Hicks gave one a ride, Hunter struck the ball about as weakly as you can for a hit over the head of Mike Napoli (a hit Tim Britton aptly described as a “duck snort”) to drive in two runs with the bases loaded and tie the game in the second (.175) after Dustin Pedroia had put the team up by two with his home run in the top of the inning. Pedroia’s two home runs were the next two highest-rated plays (.168 and .138), but unfortunately that is all the offense the team could muster.
Bottom Play (WPA): In an upset, the bottom play in this game was also made by a Minnesota Twins hitter, Trevor Plouffe. In the third inning with three runs already in and runners on first and third, Plouffe grounded into a rally-killing double play (-1.23). Porcello’s day likely would have ended a lot earlier than it did if not for this play.
Key Moment: The bottom of the third after Pedroia put the team up by two runs in the top of the inning. Boston needed Porcello to come out and shut down the Twins after being handed a lead. It started off well enough with a groundout to second, but that was followed up with two walks and a single to load the bases, ultimately setting the scene for Hunter’s two-run “duck snort.” Joe Mauer followed that up with an RBI single, forcing the Red Sox to play from behind yet again.
Trends to Watch: Porcello gave up two more home runs in this contest, putting his season total at 11. Outside of his rookie year when he allowed 23, he has never given up more than 18 in a season. He’s now on pace to give up just under 32 over 180 innings pitched. After four mediocre-to-bad starts to begin the year, Porcello had a nice run in the next four in which he had a 2.10 ERA. However, his last two, including this one, have been downright terrible. With a very solid track record in his previous six major league seasons, it’s hard to imagine he’s lost his ability at age 26, but he must improve in a hurry if this team is going anywhere this season.
On the other end of the power spectrum, Pedroia matched his seven-homer output from all of last year with two more bombs Wednesday. It was the second multi-home run game of the season for the second baseman, with the other coming on Opening Day, though he hadn’t hit one since May 2 coming into the game. It seems his power is returning as many predicted after overcoming the injuries that plagued him for the last couple seasons. Unfortunately, Pedroia’s laser show was not enough by itself to carry the offense.
Coming Next: Following this sweep to the Twins, the Red Sox head down to Texas to take on the Rangers. Top pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez makes his major league debut for Boston tonight, so if nothing else, it’ll make for an intriguing glimpse into the future. Acquired for Andrew Miller last season, the lefty has taken off since joining the Red Sox system and is still just 22 years of age. Meanwhile, the offense will look to straighten things out against 24-year-old righty Nick Martinez, who has a 1.96 ERA but just a 4.9 K/9 rate on the season. Josh Hamilton also recently returned from injury for the Rangers after his tumultuous offseason.
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