Power brokers: José Abreu and Eloy Jiménez place friendly wagers on who will be the first to reach the Home Run Porch in this series. Pay up, Eloy. (@CST_soxvan)
Did the Sox get a little help from the squirrel? Maybe.
It’s not how you start, it’s how you take the lead in the third inning and have the pitching hold it until the end, or something like that, right? Well, the Sox certainly adhered to the long-standing trope against the Minnesota Twins in their 6-4 win tonight.
As mentioned before the start of the game in the gamethread, Iván Nova’s past five games have been exquisite, though his xFIP did give some cause for concern because it was almost four runs worse. The first inning did not quell any fears, and the return of Nelson Cruz from the IL played a part. The first three batters Nova faced all reached, with the Twins quickly establishing a 2-0 lead. Thankfully, that increased ground ball rate helped stabilize Nova and the Sox, as he induced a double play and then got out of the inning two batters later.
Nova did not quite settle down after that, but he didn’t allow a run for the rest of his outing, even with some interference from a squirrel. He finished with 5 1/3 innings pitched, which looks good, but he allowed 10 hits in the process, it’s just that only two really hurt him. Seems like his BABIP caught up to Nova, but like Gloria Gaynor, he still survived.
Like Nova, the Sox survived and definitely petrified Kyle Gibson and the Twins in the third inning — and surprisingly, all with two outs. First off, Matt Skole and Yolmer Sánchez both reach based with singles. Ryan Goins, who has really become an integral piece in the offense since his promotion, singled home Skole to cut the deficit in half. José Abreu apparently really wanted the lead and put everything he had into a swing just a batter later to take a 4-2 lead. He crushed a three-run homer all the way, well here, just look where he sent that ball:
Yeah, Abreu really wanted the lead, and he gave it to the Pale Hose for the rest of the game. After Nova’s 5 1/3 innings, the bullpen came in and preserved the lead for him. The combination of Jimmy Cordero, who got out of a big jam in the sixth, Aaron Bummer, who allowed the lone run from the bullpen, Evan Marshall, who has become and remained a high-leverage option out of the pen, and Alex Colomé, who keeps on getting save after save even when he allows runs, preserved the win.
Cordero came in for Nova in the sixth inning with runners on second and third with one out. He was able to force an out at home courtesy of Goins in a heads-up play and a brilliant tag from James McCann.
He then proceeded the get Jason Castro swinging to end the inning. Bummer came in for the seventh and allowed a home run, though it was just a solo shot. Marshall came in for the eighth and did Evan Marshall things, with a little help from the Twins. The leadoff batter of the inning, Marwin Gonzalez, committed batter interference and Marshall proceeded to sit down the next two batters easily for a perfect stint.
Colomé was not his customary solid self with a three-run lead. Within the first five batters he faced, he already allowed one run thanks to three singles from the Twins. With the tying run now at the plate, Colomé was able to take control and preserve the win.
The Sox did add a couple of insurance runs before it was all said and done in the seventh and eighth innings. First, our favorite play helped extend the Sox lead.
Yeah, what a brilliant call, a bunt with one out and two strikes (eye-roll). The sixth and final run for the Sox came from a smarter and more conventional strategy, and RBI single from Eloy Jiménez.
It was not a fantastic performance from the Sox in their 6-4 win. They only had eight hits compared to Minnesota’s 15, but at least the Sox’s were more timely. They were 3-for-8 with RISP and had four two-out hits (all in the third inning) that propelled them to the win.
And sure, maybe the squirrel had something to do with it too.