The Red Sox struggled on both offense and defense Wednesday night and lost to the Twins 9-4. Clay Buchholz‘ and Koji Uehara‘s outings were most concerning.
The Red Sox brought their 5-9 record in Grapefruit League play to CenturyLink Sports Complex to take on the 7-6 Minnesota Twins. They played the Twins three times previously in spring training and were able to defeat them in one of those games. Boston wouldn’t be able to get to .500 against Minnesota on Wednesday night.
The game started out on a promising note for the Sox when Mookie Betts kicked things off with a solo home run blast to left center for his second of spring training. Unfortunately, that would be the highlight of the night for Boston’s offense. The Sox did get some base runners here and there, but couldn’t find a way to drive anyone in when it counted. They left seven men on base and were 4-12 with runners in scoring position.
The Red Sox pitching wasn’t much better. Clay Buchholz got the start, and didn’t really seem to have his stuff right from the get-go. Buchholz was getting rocked by the Twins by any means, but he seemed to struggle through each at-bat without much rhythm. With two outs in the first inning, Clay walked Joe Mauer on four pitches to keep the inning alive. Right fielder Miguel Sano drove in Mauer with a double to right field. Sano scored on a single from Trevor Plouffe, but a head’s up play by Jackie Bradley, Jr. caught Ploufe in a bit of a run-down, and the Sox were able to get him out with the Twins only getting two runs on the board.
After a scoreless second inning, second baseman Brian Dozier led off the third with a solo homerun to give the Twins a 3-0 lead. Buchholz did give up a walk, but was able to keep the damage to just the solo homer. He also pitched a quick 1-2-3 inning in the fourth to end his night with 4.0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO. It was not a great start for Buchholz, and he’ll need to be better in his next outing. He should really try to work quicker and find his rhythm.
Even more concerning than Buchholz’ night was the performance of Koji Uehara. John Farrell brought Koji on in the fifth hoping to let him get some valuable work in as he continues his return from a late season fractured wrist in 2015. Things didn’t work out at for that plan as Uehara didn’t make it through the inning – 0.2 IP, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 SO, and 1 HR.
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After Anthony Varvaro was able to get the final out of the fifth, the Sox turned to knuckle baller Steven Wright. Wright continued the theme of the night and was very shaky on the mound. He scattered five hits and two walks over 2.2 innings giving up one earned run. Wright did add a strikeout, but he was not effective at all Wednesday night.
The Red Sox tried to show some life late in the game adding a run in the eighth when Brennan Boesch singled in Ryan LaMarre. They were also scrappy in the ninth, fouling off multiple pitches, trying to piece something together. Deven Marrero scored on a Marco Hernandez single, and Sam Travis added an RBI single to drive in Allen Craig. That would be all the Sox could muster though as they fell to the Twins by a final of 9-4.
The Red Sox will look to rebound against the Orioles on Thursday when left Henry Owens (0-1, 3 G, 7.2 IP, 9 SO, 4.70 ERA) takes the mound against righty Vance Worley (0-0, 3 G, 6.0 IP, 5 SO, 4.50 ERA). The game is scheduled for a 1:05pm start at JetBlue Park.
*The Red Sox finished with 11 hits and the Twins finished with 12.
*Not one Sox player finished with a multi-hit night.
*Koji Uehara’s ERA is currently a whopping 27.00!
*Kyle Gibson got the start for Minnesota and was very effective after giving up the opening HR to Mookie. He finished the night with 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO.
*Pablo Sandoval went 1-3 and left three runners on base. He is now hitting .208 in spring training.
*The highlight of the night for me came in the fourth inning — Sandoval made a nice play on hard hit ball to third, made a quick throw to first and Hanley was able to get low and kind of dig it out. It was a very routine play for just about any third-to-first combo in the league, but it was a huge play for Hanley to make. He added a couple more big defensive plays the next inning. Hanley’s play at first was the biggest positive of the night, and his expression led me to believe that he even seemed to surprise himself on a couple plays.
As I stated earlier, Buchholz just didn’t seem to have any rhythm. It looked like the same old Clay Buchholz – he worked very slow at times, especially with runners on base and struggled with his control. Anyone hoping that Clay will finally put it together in 2016 had to be disappointed with this start against the Twins.
The Red Sox are hoping for one more season of big things from Koji Uehara, but tonight was a major roadblock in his venture back after last year’s injury. It’s possible that he’s still working some things out, but the Twins were all over him. He couldn’t even finish off one inning.
On a night that didn’t feature too much offense from the Red Sox and a serious lack of clutch hitting, Mookie Betts gets the recognition for his solo homer to lead off the game. He finished the night 1-3 with one strikeout and is now hitting .267.