Red Sox blow four run lead, lose 8-4 to Twins

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The fourth and final game of the series between the Red Sox and Twins was a rollercoaster affair, and a sloppy one at that. The first half of the game belonged to Boston, but it would be Minnesota who would get the final laugh in the matinee. The Red Sox, who had a 4-0 lead heading into the fifth inning, would go on to lose 8-4.

The ninth inning was a complete disaster for the home club. John Farrell would go to his closer Koji Uehara, who has been lights out as of late, in a tie game (4-4) to try to get to the bottom half of the inning. Koji wouldn’t even record one out.

Lead-off hitter/2B Brian Dozier and DH Torii Hunter would kick off the inning with a single each. Then the fun started – Joe Mauer threw a wrench in the system by bunting toward third. Blake Swihart grabbed the dribbler and immediately threw to third, but Pablo Sandoval could not gather the low throw, allowing Dozier to score and give Minnesota the lead. That would be Sandoval’s second error in the game after he threw a ball way over the head of Mike Napoli on a routine grounder in the sixth. That blunder would also lead to a run in the sixth inning.

After an RBI single from Trevor Plouffe would give the Twins a two run lead, Koji would get the hook. Craig Breslow came in and didn’t perform much better, giving up a hit and a walk. In all, the Twins would put four runs on the board in the ninth, all of which would be charged to Uehara. Koji’s final line: 0.0 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO.

The Red Sox offense did have twelve hits on the day, however they struggled in big moments yet again, going only 3-9 with runners in scoring position. Two errors by the Twins would lead to two runs for Boston in the second inning. Blake Swihart absolutely clobbered the first homerun of his Major League career in the third, and Dustin Pedroia led off the fourth inning with his eighth homerun of the season.

Boston wouldn’t get much done after that however. Bogaerts led off the sixth with a single, but he was then picked off/caught stealing. The seventh inning would prove to be another debacle for the Red Sox. Hanley Ramirez would start things off with a single and would move on to second when Ortiz grounded out. Ramirez would go on to make a horrible base-running error getting thrown out running to third on a Mike Napoli ground out. Xander Bogaerts then singled to center sending Mike Napoli to third, but he was then waived home by third base coach Brian Butterfield and was thrown out by a mile. Besides a single in the eighth by Mookie Betts, the Red Sox wouldn’t do anything else on the offensive side.

Steven Wright looked solid to start the game and breezed through the first three innings. He didn’t give up a hit until the third and gathered a ton of groundball outs. He finally got in some trouble in the fifth, and Torii Hunter made him pay with a three-run blast. His last inning was the sixth which saw the Twins tie the game after the throwing error from Sandoval. Wright allowed six scattered hits total, four runs (three earned), with two strikeouts and no walks.

It was a disappointing finish to a game that started out on a very positive note for Boston. The same can be said about the entire four game series that saw the Sox take the first two and the Twins take the latter two.

The Red Sox have now fallen back into last place in the AL East with a 24-31 record. They’ll look to get back on track tomorrow night for the start of a three game weekend series against the Oakland A’s at Fenway Park. Wade Miley (4-5, 4.97 ERA), winner of three of his last four starts, will take the mound against left-hander Scott Kazmir (2-3, 2.93). Kazmir used to give the Sox fits when he was in a Rays uniform, but we’ll see if the Red Sox can finally do some damage against a lefty.

GAME NOTES:

* The Red Sox had three errors on the day, two from Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval now leads the team with seven errors total. After the game, both Sandoval and manager John Farrell downplayed any physical ailments being the cause for his struggles in the field.

* Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Napoli, and Mookie Betts all picked up two hits on the day.

* Xander Bogaerts had three hits to bring his average to .298 and is quietly putting together a very nice, consistent 2015 season.

* Junichi Tazawa and Tommy Layne looked solid out of the bullpen. Tazawa did give up a hit and a walk in one total inning, but he also had three strikeouts. Layne also threw two strikeouts despite walking two batters.

GRADES:

B. . Steven Wright. . STARTING PITCHING

Wright got off to a quick start gathering ground ball outs and only allowing two hits through four innings. The mistake pitch to Hunter allowing the three run homer was very costly and really muddied the outing for Wright, as did the first error from Sandoval. He still looks deserving of a spot in the rotation, although I wouldn’t be surprised by anything at this point.

RELIEF PITCHING . F. . Koji Uehara. </span><b>Koji Uehara</b>

It’s a very rare occasion to get to say the following: Koji Uehara was awful on Thursday. Yes, the error from Sandoval was the dagger, but Koji put them in that position with no outs. He was getting hit hard as well, which was obvious when Dozier led off the ninth with a hard single off the wall (the only positive was that Hanley actually played the wall correctly for once). It was probably the worst he’s ever looked at Fenway Park. I don’t think it’s anything to worry about with Koji, but he just didn’t have it.

B. . Dustin Pedroia. . OFFENSE

Pedroia has been very consistent all year long and Thursday was no different. He went 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored, and his homerun in the fourth inning led Sox fans to believe that Boston was about to destroy Minnesota. He’s now hitting .303 on the season and is currently one of the only bright spots in the lineup.

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