Red Sox beat Twins 7-1 for twinbill sweep, 9th straight win

National Sports

Boston Red Sox center fielder Alex Verdugo hits a single against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning during a baseball game, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Alex Verdugo had three hits, including a two-run single in a six-run fifth inning, and the Boston Red Sox extended their winning streak to nine games, beating the Minnesota Twins 7-1 to sweep Wednesday’s doubleheader.

Eduardo Rodríguez (2-0) pitched five innings and gave up one run on five hits for Boston, which has come from behind in six of its nine wins this season. The Red Sox have their longest winning streak since a 10-game run in 2018, a season that ended with a World Series title.

Boston is also the first team in major league history to open the season with at least three straight losses and immediately follow that by winning at least nine straight, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Verdugo had five hits in the doubleheader and capped the day with his second homer of the season in the seventh inning. The Red Sox won the first game 3-2.

“To win some ballgames, and to actually be at the top of the standings and kind of like overlooked a little bit, I love it,” Verdugo said. “I love this group of guys. I love this team, the chemistry, everything. It’s something special on this team.”

José Berríos (2-1) surrendered four runs in 4 1/3 innings for Minnesota, giving up four hits and three walks. Berríos, who retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced, walked Franchy Cordero with the bases loaded for the first run of the fifth before departing.

The Twins have lost five straight.

“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,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “So, if we keep competing like that, I think the pieces are going to fall just fine for us. We’ve got to keep playing hard. We’ve got to stay focused and not get distracted with some of these losses and the way they’ve kind of played out.”

The fifth unraveled quickly for Berríos when Rafael Devers’ drive to center caromed off the glove of a diving Jake Cave for a double. Christian Vázquez walked and Bobby Dalbec singled before the walk to Cordero.

Tyler Duffey relieved Berríos and struck out Kiké Hernández. But Verdugo plated Vázquez, J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts walked, and Devers hit a two-run single off left-hander Caleb Thielbar.

Rodríguez settled in after allowing a run on three hits in the first. He permitted just three baserunners through his final four innings.

“To win both games, win the series, it makes it special,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “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.”

The doubleheader was scheduled after Monday’s game was postponed following the fatal police shooting of a Black man in a nearby suburb.

FIRST GAME

Nathan Eovaldi (2-1) gave up two runs on five hits in five innings for the Red Sox. Matt Barnes earned his second save.

The Red Sox finished last in the AL East in 2020, and Eovaldi has little doubt about what’s different this year.

“For me, it’s the pitching,” Eovaldi said. “I like our team a lot. I like where we’re at. I feel like at any point in the ballgame, we’re going to be able to take the lead, put up runs and keep us there.”

Kenta Maeda (1-1) was undone by Minnesota’s defense in the second inning, including his own throwing error that allowed a run to score. He pitched 4 1/3 innings and gave up three runs — two earned — on seven hits and two walks.

“It was mainly my delivery,” Maeda said. “I haven’t had too many opportunities to pitch in the cold weather. But that’s something I’ve got to get used to, being a Twin, being in Minnesota, things like that. And then last year, we started here in June with the summer camp, so this is the first time I’m experiencing the cold here.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: RHP Bryan Mata, one of the team’s top pitching prospects, underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on Tuesday. The procedure was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in California.

Twins: 3B Josh Donaldson was activated for the second game of the doubleheader and played for the first time since straining his right hamstring in the season opener. He went 1 for 2 with a walk. LHP Brandon Waddell was optioned to the team’s alternate training site. … CF Byron Buxton was held out of both games with hamstring soreness. Baldelli said the plan was for Buxton to play in the second game, but the team decided to be cautious and keep the oft-injured outfielder on the bench. … DH Nelson Cruz returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s game with a non-COVID-19-related illness.

UP NEXT

Michael Pineda (1-0, 1.64 ERA) will start the final game of the series for Minnesota on Thursday. Boston counters with Garrett Richards (0-1, 10.29). Pineda has won eight straight decisions dating to July 2019. Richards bounced back from a tough 2021 debut to give up two runs in five innings against Baltimore in his last start.

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