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Red Sox stay hot, throttle Twins

July 21, 2016

BOSTON -- The front four in the Red Sox's batting order -- led by five hits from Dustin Pedroia -- overpowered the Twins in a 13-2 romp in Thursday night's opener of a four-game series at Fenway Park.Steven Wright was perfect for 4 1/3 innings while improving his record to

BOSTON -- The front four in the Red Sox's batting order -- led by five hits from Dustin Pedroia -- overpowered the Twins in a 13-2 romp in Thursday night's opener of a four-game series at Fenway Park.
Steven Wright was perfect for 4 1/3 innings while improving his record to 12-5. The knuckleballer allowed four hits and two runs (one earned) over eight innings, walking one and equaling a career high with nine strikeouts. The win allowed Boston to maintain a half-game lead over the Orioles in the American League East.
Gimme five: Pedroia sprays ball around

The quartet of Mookie Betts, Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz went 14-for-19 with 10 runs and nine RBIs.
"Yeah, the top half of the lineup was outstanding," said manager John Farrell after his 300th win with the Red Sox. "Pedey, five hits, you don't see that very often. Mookie, as I mentioned, the way he's going right now is impressive. The month of July has been a very good offensive month as we've kind of gotten past that stretch in June."
Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Ortiz all went deep. The fourth five-hit game of Pedroia's career, and first since 2010, included three runs, two doubles and an RBI.

Twins starter Tyler Duffey was shelled for nine hits and six runs over 2 1/3 innings. Max Kepler, who broke up the perfect game with a single to left in the fifth, had two hits on a mostly quiet night for Minnesota.
"Giving up a first-pitch home run never puts a good taste in your mouth," Duffey said. "I was ahead of a lot of guys, but I just didn't put them away. Just get through some innings was all I was trying to do. I tried to get us deep, but I couldn't get guys out."
Mookie wastes no time: Betts swung at Duffey's first pitch of the game and hammered it over the Green Monster in left-center. It was the fourth leadoff homer this season by Betts, and the sixth of his career. The 19th home run of the season for Betts represents a new career high. It was the first time Betts has offered at the first pitch of his first at-bat all season.

"I think I did it six times last year. I was 0-for-6, so I figured I might as well not do it anymore," Betts said. "Travis [Shaw] actually convinced me to try it."
Kepler breaks up perfecto: The Twins didn't have a baserunner until Kepler singled with one out in the fifth inning against Wright. Shaw nearly snagged the soft liner toward third, but it went into shallow left for a single. Kennys Vargas followed with a bloop ground-rule double to set up an RBI groundout from Robbie Grossman. Vargas then scored on a wild pitch from Wright, as the ball came out of Wright's glove as he made the tag on Vargas at home plate. Kepler went 2-for-4 to pick up two of Minnesota's five hits.

"He fought off that two-strike out to left to get us in the hit column," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "The one he hit to center field, he hit well and stayed inside it. He just missed one to right field in his last at-bat. So he's doing well." More >
Papi's latest blast: Ortiz made news before the game by getting a batting-practice home run stuck in Pesky's Pole in right field. In the eighth inning, he hit a mammoth two-run shot that cleared the Red Sox's bullpen in right-center and sailed into the bleachers. According to Statcast™, Ortiz's 24th home run of the season landed 417 feet away from home plate.

"Just the consistency to the at-bats and consistency to hit the ball hard is really mind-boggling at this point in the season," said Farrell. "We talked about the last swing of Spring Training and it hasn't stopped. Extra-base hits, quality at-bats. He is on base seemingly a couple times every single night. You don't want this run to end." More >
Tonkin provides relief: After Duffey lasted a season-worst 2 1/3 innings, reliever Michael Tonkin helped clean up the mess. Tonkin entered with two on and one out in the third, but he was able to strike out Shaw and Ryan Hanigan on six pitches to get out of the jam. Tonkin went 2 1/3 frames, allowing one run on Bradley's homer in the fifth.

"He did well," Molitor said. "A couple strikeouts. He hadn't had an extended outing in a while so we kind of pushed him a little bit."
"His numbers against us over the years have been impressive. I've got a glimpse of what he's done against the Twins in the past. It's one of those things where a guy talks about retiring but puts up an MVP-type season. It's impressive to watch." -- Molitor, on Ortiz
In 71 career games against the Twins -- the team that released him after the 2002 season -- Ortiz is a .330 hitter with 21 homers and 56 RBIs.
With his strikeout in the seventh inning, Twins third baseman Miguel Sanó has struck out in 17 straight games, which is the longest active streak in the Majors, according to Inside Edge.
Twins: Right-hander Kyle Gibson starts for the Twins in the second game of the four-game series at Fenway Park on Friday at 6:10 p.m. CT. Gibson has been pitching well recently, going 2-1 with a 3.65 ERA over his last four starts.
Red Sox: Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez will try to build off the strong start he had at Yankee Stadium last time out. Rodriguez is looking for his first win at Fenway Park this season. The Twins touched him up for six hits and four runs over 4 2/3 innings in Minnesota on June 11. First pitch is 7:10 p.m. ET.
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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Read his blog, **Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter [@RhettBollinger](** and listen to his podcast.