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Offense stymied, Twins miss chance at sweep

MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- While the back-to-back series wins over the first-place Indians and the Red Sox are impressive, the Twins lost out on their chance for a much-needed sweep with the offense going cold in a 9-2 loss to Boston on Thursday afternoon at Target Field.

Much like their weekend series in Cleveland, the Twins couldn't pull off the sweep in the final game of the series despite another strong start from right-hander Kyle Gibson, who allowed two runs on seven hits and three walks over six innings to fall to 2-5 with a 3.25 ERA.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- While the back-to-back series wins over the first-place Indians and the Red Sox are impressive, the Twins lost out on their chance for a much-needed sweep with the offense going cold in a 9-2 loss to Boston on Thursday afternoon at Target Field.

Much like their weekend series in Cleveland, the Twins couldn't pull off the sweep in the final game of the series despite another strong start from right-hander Kyle Gibson, who allowed two runs on seven hits and three walks over six innings to fall to 2-5 with a 3.25 ERA.

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"Like we were in Cleveland, we were looking to try to find a way to take advantage when you get the first couple," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Two really good teams we couldn't finish it off against. You'll take the four out of six in the big picture, but today you're thinking about sweeping."

Video: BOS@MIN: Motter plates Garver with an RBI groundout

The Red Sox scored in the fourth on a two-out RBI single from Sandy Leon after a leadoff walk from Mitch Moreland before Mookie Betts connected on a solo shot in the fifth. Gibson was able to limit the damage, working out of several jams, including a bases-loaded situation with one out in the fifth.

"I battled there early on, kind of had to do a little regroup there between the first and second innings and try to find my delivery a little bit," Gibson said. "My command was off there in the first and second inning, and I kind of found it there in the third and just tried to keep battling."

Video: BOS@MIN: Statcast™ tracks Kepler's diving grab in RF

But the Twins' offense couldn't get anything going against right-hander Rick Porcello, who gave up just one hit and a walk over seven scoreless innings. Logan Morrison had the lone hit with a single with two outs in the first, but the Twins stranded two runners that inning, with Robbie Grossman grounding out into the shift.

"He threw the ball well, he had a lot of stuff working," Molitor said of Porcello. "We saw that combination of changeup and front-door two-seamer was working really well against the lefties."

Video: BOS@MIN: Grossman robs Betts with running grab

After Ryan LaMarre walked with one out in the second, the Red Sox retired 17 in a row until LaMarre snapped the streak with a one-out single in the eighth off reliever Hector Velazquez. But Bobby Wilson promptly grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Boston scored three insurance runs in the seventh off reliever Ryan Pressly, with Xander Bogaerts connecting on a two-run double with two outs as Grossman misplayed the carom off the wall in left. Bogaerts went to third on the throw home and scored on an RBI groundout.

The Red Sox put the game away with three runs in the eighth off reliever Matt Belisle, with Andrew Benintendi launching a two-run homer and J.D. Martinez and Moreland smacking back-to-back doubles. Reliever Matt Magill gave up a run in the ninth on an RBI single from Jackie Bradley Jr.

Video: BOS@MIN: Morrison plates a run with sac fly to center

Minnesota didn't score until the ninth on an RBI groundout from Taylor Motter after a single from Mitch Garver and a double from Brian Dozier. Morrison added a sacrifice fly to score Dozier, but it was too little, too late for the Twins.

ESCOBAR EXITS EARLY
Twins third baseman Eduardo Escobar was hit on his right elbow in the first inning on a first-pitch fastball from Porcello with two outs. Escobar tried to play through the injury, which was diagnosed as a bruise, but he struck out to end the third and was replaced by Motter at third base.

Video: BOS@MIN: Escobar hit by pitch, later leaves the game

Escobar, along with left fielder Eddie Rosario, who was scratched with right shoulder soreness, has been one of the club's best hitters this season, batting .299/.351/.575 with 12 homers, a Major League-leading 32 doubles and 48 RBIs in 68 games. The Twins weren't pleased with the hit by pitch after the game, as they believed it might've been a purpose pitch from Porcello after Gibson dusted Martinez with an inside fastball in the first.

"I saw the ball coming to my face -- I was trying to cover my head and it hit my elbow," Escobar said. "I respect Porcello a lot. He's one of the best pitchers in the league. If he did it on purpose, I don't really know what the purpose is behind it. I've never done anything against him. I was trying to protect myself and we'll just move on." More >

SOUND SMART
The Twins have yet to complete a three-game sweep this season, missing out on their chances against the Tigers on May 23, the Indians on Sunday and the Red Sox on Thursday. Minnesota recorded five three-game sweeps in 2017.

HE SAID IT
"It didn't look particularly good to me." -- Molitor, when asked if Porcello hit Escobar on purpose

UP NEXT
Rookie right-hander Fernando Romero will take the mound on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT, when the Twins host the Rangers in the first game of a three-game series at Target Field. Romero (3-2, 4.17 ERA) had a 1.88 ERA through his first five career starts, but he has posted an 8.10 ERA since then in four outings. He gave up three runs in four innings against the Indians last time out. The Rangers will start lefty Mike Minor (4-4, 5.35 ERA).

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Kyle Gibson