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Red Sox bash 3 doubles, score 5 runs in 1st

Mariners starter LeBlanc held Sox scoreless in last start
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Just after Steven Wright gave up a four-spot in the top of the first inning against the Mariners on Friday night at Fenway Park, the Red Sox provided a resounding answer with five runs in their half of the first.

It didn't take long to realize that the 1-0 duel that Wright and Mariners lefty Wade LeBlanc staged six days ago would not be mirrored in any way, shape or form in the Fenway rematch.

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BOSTON -- Just after Steven Wright gave up a four-spot in the top of the first inning against the Mariners on Friday night at Fenway Park, the Red Sox provided a resounding answer with five runs in their half of the first.

It didn't take long to realize that the 1-0 duel that Wright and Mariners lefty Wade LeBlanc staged six days ago would not be mirrored in any way, shape or form in the Fenway rematch.

View Full Game Coverage

At Safeco Field last week, the Red Sox had just two hits off LeBlanc in 7 2/3 innings. They equaled that total two batters into Friday's game, when Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi led off with singles. J.D. Martinez followed with an RBI double to left. Mitch Moreland made it four straight hits with an RBI single to right.

LeBlanc finally got an out when he struck out Xander Bogaerts.

But Brock Holt came up next and blooped an RBI double (68-mph exit velocity) to cut the deficit to one. Rafael Devers tied it on a fielder's choice grounder, and Christian Vazquez gave the Red Sox the 5-4 lead by crushing a ground-rule double to right-center.

Wright handed the lead right back to Seattle by giving up two more runs in the top of the second.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox

JBJ showing signs of offensive turnaround

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Though Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting just .181 on the season and was not in the starting lineup for Friday's series opener at Fenway Park against the Mariners, manager Alex Cora will continue to play the center fielder on a regular basis.

With lefty Wade LeBlanc on the mound for the Mariners, Cora played J.D. Martinez in left field, moved Andrew Benintendi to center and inserted Blake Swihart as the DH.

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BOSTON -- Though Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting just .181 on the season and was not in the starting lineup for Friday's series opener at Fenway Park against the Mariners, manager Alex Cora will continue to play the center fielder on a regular basis.

With lefty Wade LeBlanc on the mound for the Mariners, Cora played J.D. Martinez in left field, moved Andrew Benintendi to center and inserted Blake Swihart as the DH.

View Full Game Coverage

Despite the numbers, Cora thinks there has been an improvement to Bradley's approach of late. Bradley will be back in the lineup on Saturday against righty Mike Leake.

"As far as work, and where we want him to be swing-wise, he is where we want him to be," Cora said. "If somebody has an idea to change his luck as far as line drives, hey, they're more than welcome [to share]. I was looking at the numbers.

"In Baltimore, I think he hit the ball harder than anybody else, and he was 0-for-12. Yesterday he hit one at 96 mph, the other one at 103, and then he finally got a ground ball that went through. So he's in a good spot. Been consistent with his leg kick. He's been on time. Is he swinging and missing? Yeah, but he's still barreling balls, which is very important."

Bradley's defense remains exceptional enough in center that the Red Sox feel it is worth it to wait for his bat to come around.

Video: BOS@MIN: Bradley Jr. launches hardest throw of '18

"The one thing about him that's impressive is when that at-bat is over, he grabs that glove and he plays elite center field, and that's not easy to do," Cora said. "Especially in the outfield when you have all that time to think about mechanics and pitch sequences and everything, and you see him in the outfield, moving guys around, just taking charge, which is very impressive.

"I bet it's hard, honestly. We live in an era where we look up at the stadium, and you look up, and there's a lot of numbers. When you see that average below .200, of course it has to be tough. But I'm very proud of him. When he hits a ground ball, he's running hard to first base. When his teammates aren't doing well, he's there for them, and defensively, he's doing an outstanding job."

Post All-Star break seems likely for Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia hasn't played for the Red Sox since May 29, and he still hasn't been cleared for full baseball activities. At this point, it seems more likely than not that Pedroia's return will come after the All-Star break.

"Honestly, the more he stays away from baseball activities, the more he has to reset, let's be honest," said Cora. "It took him a while to come back. The more he stays away from the field, the longer it's going to be."

Pedroia had a cartilage restoration procedure and microfracture surgery on his left knee last October. His recovery had been going smoothly through a Minor League rehab assignment for Triple-A Pawtucket. But after three games with the Red Sox, Pedroia developed inflammation and soreness and had to go back on the disabled list.

Any progress for Pedroia?

"Same deal. A little bit sore, walking on the treadmill, no baseball activity," said Cora.

'First step' for Pomeranz

Lefty Drew Pomeranz was able to throw off a mound on Friday, marking the first time he has done so since he went on the disabled list with left biceps tendinitis at the beginning of June.

"I think it's just the first step, honestly," said Cora. "It's been awhile now because of the neck [stiffness], and it's the first step of his comeback. It's been awhile because of what happened, so we've just got to be patient."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Jackie Bradley Jr., Dustin Pedroia, Drew Pomeranz

Breakout shows Betts back in All-Star form

Red Sox right fielder goes 3-for-6 with 19th home run
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

MINNEAPOLIS -- It can't be viewed as mere coincidence that the Red Sox got their offense back on track the same day Mookie Betts went 3-for-6, including a home run, in his best game since returning from the disabled list.

Boston's human sparkplug from the leadoff spot, Betts helped lift the Sox to a 9-2 victory over the Twins on Thursday afternoon at Target Field.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- It can't be viewed as mere coincidence that the Red Sox got their offense back on track the same day Mookie Betts went 3-for-6, including a home run, in his best game since returning from the disabled list.

Boston's human sparkplug from the leadoff spot, Betts helped lift the Sox to a 9-2 victory over the Twins on Thursday afternoon at Target Field.

View Full Game Coverage

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

Betts is the best all-around player on the Red Sox, and one of the best in baseball. He leads American League outfielders with 1,568,417 All-Star votes.

"All around, when Mookie is going, obviously we go," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "It's good to see him swing the bat well."

Betts hammered an opposite-field solo homer to right in the fifth inning to boost Boston's lead to 2-0.

It was the 19th homer of the season for Betts, and second in 34 at-bats since coming off the disabled list.

In an encouraging development, Thursday was the second straight multihit game for Betts.

Betts snags ball in exact right spot, shows chart

Video: BOS@MIN: Betts makes grab while in perfect position

Prior to Thursday's contest, Betts slashed .226/.351/.323 with one RBI in his first eight games back from the left abdominal strain that kept him out of action from May 27 to June 10.

The breakout could at least be partly attributed to some pregame discussion and work with the coaches.

"We went and looked at some video and kind of compared to what I was doing before my injury or whatever and it made a lot of sense," said Betts. "We kind of sat down and talked for a couple of minutes and it made a lot of sense."

After scoring two runs or less in four of the previous six games, the Sox erupted for 16 hits on getaway day in Minnesota.

"We needed some guys to swing it," said Betts. "We got some guys rolling and we hit with some guys on base, so, yeah, we did a good job today."

And most vitally, they got Betts going again.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts

Porcello dominates, bats erupt in 50th win

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

MINNEAPOLIS -- The bats finally livened up for the Red Sox on Thursday afternoon, but starting pitcher Rick Porcello didn't really need them to.

The righty put on a pitching clinic (seven shutout innings, three baserunners) at Target Field while leading Boston to a 9-2 victory over the Twins to salvage the finale of a three-game series and finish a 10-game road trip through three different time zones with a 6-4 mark. It was yet another happy flight for the Red Sox, who improved to 15-3 on getaway days this season.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- The bats finally livened up for the Red Sox on Thursday afternoon, but starting pitcher Rick Porcello didn't really need them to.

The righty put on a pitching clinic (seven shutout innings, three baserunners) at Target Field while leading Boston to a 9-2 victory over the Twins to salvage the finale of a three-game series and finish a 10-game road trip through three different time zones with a 6-4 mark. It was yet another happy flight for the Red Sox, who improved to 15-3 on getaway days this season.

View Full Game Coverage

Boston improved to 50-26, just a few minutes after the Yankees became the second team in the Majors this season to hit the 50-win plateau. The Astros reached 50 on Wednesday.

Video: BOS@MIN: Betts launches his 19th homer of the season

"Today his tempo was outstanding," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "Two-seamer in, mixing up with the breaking ball. He was under control. And it was a 2-0 game for a while there, so he had to make some quality pitches to a good left-handed-loaded lineup. We're very pleased with the way he threw the ball."

Porcello allowed just one hit -- and it was a single by Logan Morrison in the first. Porcello issued a walk with two outs in the second and didn't allow a baserunner the rest of the day. While improving to 9-3 and lowering his ERA to 3.44, Porcello had five strikeouts and was pleased to be able to come through when his team needed it most.

Video: BOS@MIN: Benintendi belts a 2-run HR to right-center

"Yeah, I want to be the guy on the mound," Porcello said. "I think, if you ask any one of our starters, we'd probably all say that, and that's part of being a competitor and trying to help the ballclub. Like you said, we don't want to be in these situations, but we needed a bounce-back game and I look forward to having the ball and trying to stop the bleeding."

After scoring two runs or fewer in four of their previous six games, the Sox's offense closed the road trip with some encouraging productivity.

Video: BOS@MIN: Bogaerts plates a pair with double off wall

Mookie Betts belted a solo homer to right in the fifth. It was the 19th of the season for the star right fielder, but just his second since returning from the disabled list on June 11.

Mookie homers, paces 16-hit attack vs. Twins

Xander Bogaerts added a two-run double in the seventh to give Porcello some more breathing room.

Video: BOS@MIN: Leon plates Moreland with a single to right

Andrew Benintendi put the game away with a two-run rocket to right in the eighth.

"We needed some guys to swing it," said Betts. "We got some guys rolling and we hit with some guys on base, so, yeah, we did a good job today."

"Yeah, we definitely needed a win today, especially to end this long road trip and dropping the first two games to these guys, so it was definitely nice for us to come out strong," Porcello said. "Offense swung the bats great late in the game and we were able to get the win."

Video: BOS@MIN: Moreland extends lead with an RBI double

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
For all the highlight-reel hits the Red Sox had during a 16-hit day, the at-bat that pleased Cora the most was a fielder's-choice RBI grounder by Rafael Devers that made it 5-0, Red Sox, in the seventh.

Video: BOS@MIN: Devers plates Bogaerts with an RBI groundout

"For everything that went on offensively, I was pointing out that there was an at-bat that people won't talk about," said Cora. "In the seventh, less than two outs, infield in and Raffy puts the ball in play. That's what we were talking about earlier in the game. If we put up quality at-bats like that, we're going to score a lot of runs."

LISTEN: Morning Lineup Podcast on 50-win teams

SOUND SMART
Porcello's one hit allowed represented his fewest in any start since May 22, 2011, against the Pirates. Porcello's mastery of the Twins also continued, as he beat them for the 11th time, which ties him with the ageless Bartolo Colon for third most among active pitchers.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
When Joe Mauer flew out to right-center to open the sixth, it looked like the most routine play imaginable. Betts didn't even seem to have to move. But the beauty of the play was that the Red Sox's analytics department had called an audible before the game to adjust the way the club was positioning Mauer, especially with Porcello pitching.

After Betts got the ball, he pulled an index card out of his pocket (Boston's fielders all use them for positioning purposes) and waved it at the dugout with a huge smile on his face.

Video: BOS@MIN: Betts makes grab while in perfect position

"Yeah, that was a big topic before the game," said Cora. "It was an extreme one from the analytical department. They see stuff like that and they panic. We made a few calls before [the game]. We looked at the charts and we're like, 'It's right on, go with it.' We double checked with Rick and I'm glad that it happened, because they're believing in what we're doing but sometimes they see something extreme and it's like, 'This is out of the ordinary.'

"I know they were happy, but I was the happiest guy, like, 'Thank God they hit it right there.' It reinforces what we're trying to accomplish. You saw it and it was very extreme. It was good for him to be in that spot and catch it. Hopefully his range factor goes up and defensive runs saved and all that."

HE SAID IT
"That means they know where we're at and understand how important it is to finish strong. For whatever [reason], there were a few games we felt that we could've stolen [on this trip] or gotten [another] win here or there, but 6-4 is 6-4. It's a good trip." -- Cora

UP NEXT
Knuckleballer Steven Wright, who has basically been untouchable in his first three starts since replacing the injured Drew Pomeranz in the starting rotation, will try to get the Red Sox off to a strong start when he opens a six-game homestand on Friday night against the Mariners. After losing a 1-0 heartbreaker to Wade LeBlanc last weekend in Seattle, Wright gets a rematch against the Seattle southpaw in the opener of this three-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Rick Porcello

Betts snags ball in exact right spot, shows chart

You know when you don't do your assigned reading in school because you think you're so cool and smart and can pass your final exam without it? And then you take the exam and, well, you fail?

Well, look to Mookie Betts, young kids. Along with already being very cool and smart, Mookie studied his fielding chart for Thursday's game against the Twins and, on a Joe Mauer fly ball to right-center field, Mookie was precisely where he was supposed to be.

The most pressing question facing Red Sox

While the Yanks and Red Sox look to add, the other three will weigh offers for current stars
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

The decision-makers for each team are entering the busy season, and their phones should be buzzing with possibilities. The non-waiver Trade Deadline is July 31, and the buyers and sellers are crystal clear in the American League East.

The Yankees and Red Sox are in search of the final pieces that can turn their already strong squads into juggernauts, while the Blue Jays, Orioles and Rays will likely look to turn enticing trade chips into future gains.

The decision-makers for each team are entering the busy season, and their phones should be buzzing with possibilities. The non-waiver Trade Deadline is July 31, and the buyers and sellers are crystal clear in the American League East.

The Yankees and Red Sox are in search of the final pieces that can turn their already strong squads into juggernauts, while the Blue Jays, Orioles and Rays will likely look to turn enticing trade chips into future gains.

• Non-waiver Trade Deadline explained

Here are the key questions for all five AL East clubs as the Deadline draws near.

BLUE JAYS
The question: Will Josh Donaldson recoup enough value in the coming weeks to justify a trade prior to the Deadline?

Donaldson hasn't played since May 28 because of a sore left calf muscle. Before that, a right shoulder injury caused him to miss three weeks in April. As a result, Donaldson has just five home runs and 16 RBIs as the end of June quickly approaches.

The 2015 AL Most Valuable Player Award winner is expected to return soon, but he'll need to bounce back in a hurry if the Blue Jays want to jumpstart a potential rebuild with a big July trade. A qualifying offer at the end of the year remains a possibility, but if Toronto can get a haul for Donaldson before the Deadline, that's the course of action it is expected to take.

ORIOLES
The question: Will superstar Manny Machado be traded?

Machado is a hot commodity on a last-place team, so it seems like a no-brainer that he will be moved. But it's not necessarily a sure thing, as the O's didn't like any of the offers they received during the offseason for their prized shortstop, who can be a free agent after the season.

So what will it take? Young, controllable talent -- preferably pitching -- is what Baltimore wanted last offseeason. Given that Machado is essentially a rental for the team that acquires him, the Orioles won't get an organization-changing haul, but there still will be a lot of pressure to get something of substance in return. Further complicating matters is that O's vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette is also in the final year of his contact.

Video: MLB Tonight on the D-backs' interest in Machado

RAYS
The question: Will Chris Archer get traded?

Archer, who is on the disabled list with a left abdominal strain, has a deal that pays him $6.4 million this season and $7.7 million in 2019, which is relatively affordable compared to other pitchers of a similar talent level. So the question is, will Archer be healthy by the time the Deadline rolls around, and if he is, can the Rays find a suitable trade partner who values the right-hander enough to part with the prospect haul that they would want in return?

Of course, a trade for Archer, who is one of Tampa Bay's most popular players, would further signal the Rays' decision to get younger, which could have an adverse effect on the team's efforts to get public funding for a new stadium.

RED SOX
The question: Will the Red Sox get another impact arm in 'pen?

In his first two pennant races running Boston's front office, vice president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski bolstered his bullpen. In 2016, the Red Sox got Brad Ziegler, and he helped the team win the AL East. Addison Reed was similarly effective in helping Boston close out the division last year. With Carson Smith out for the season after injuring his shoulder and Tyler Thornburg still an uncertainty in his rehab from thoracic outlet syndrome, Dombrowski is likely going to have to hit the bullpen market again.

A power left-hander would be a particularly good fit for manager Alex Cora, considering all his best relief arms are right-handed. The cost for Padres southpaw Brad Hand could be exorbitant, but Dombrowski will stay in touch with San Diego all the way up to July 31. Baltimore's Zach Britton is another possibility.

YANKEES
The question: Can they add a starting pitcher?

General manager Brian Cashman has been searching for a starter since the offseason, when the team settled for re-signing CC Sabathia to a one-year contract with a belief that they could upgrade in late July if necessary. As anticipated, the rotation has proven to be a concern, with second-year lefty Jordan Montgomery out for the year due to Tommy John surgery and right-hander Masahiro Tanaka expected to miss a month after straining both hamstrings while running the bases in a game against the Mets.

Video: NYY@NYM: Tanaka feels stiffness in legs after scoring

The Yankees have patched things together by summoning righties Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga from the Minors, but with a postseason berth in sight, Cashman is open to dipping into the club's prospect reserves to add a stabilizing veteran like the Rangers' Cole Hamels or the Blue Jays' J.A. Happ. Cashman recently said that he has touched base with 20 of the 29 other clubs on some level, a number that will certainly inch closer to 29 as July 31 nears.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays

Papi to manage World Team at Futures Game

Former teammates will face off in showcase of game's top prospects
MLB.com

Fan favorites David Ortiz and Torii Hunter will emerge from retirement to manage the World Team and U.S. Team, respectively, in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on July 15 at Nationals Park.

VOTE NOW: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

Fan favorites David Ortiz and Torii Hunter will emerge from retirement to manage the World Team and U.S. Team, respectively, in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on July 15 at Nationals Park.

VOTE NOW: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

The rosters, umpires and remainder of the coaching staffs will be announced in the coming weeks.

The 20th annual All-Star Futures Game features top Minor League prospects playing in a full nine-inning contest as part of All-Star Weekend. The U.S. Team holds a 12-7 all-time advantage over the World Team.

During last year's Futures Game, righty Brent Honeywell (Rays' No. 1 prospect) tossed two shutout innings for MVP honors en route to a 7-6 win for the U.S. squad at Marlins Park for its seventh victory in the past eight years. Other notable players in the 2017 Futures Game included the Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr., the Phillies' Rhys Hoskins, the Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Yankees' Estevan Florial.

Video: McMaster, Callis discuss USA's 7-6 Futures Game win

Big Papi will make his coaching debut looking to get the World Team back in the win column. The Dominican 10-time All-Star played 20 seasons in the Majors -- six with the Twins before completing his career with the Red Sox. Ortiz led Boston to three World Series titles and finished in the top five in the American League Most Valuable Player Award voting in each of his first five seasons with the Red Sox.

Ortiz finished the 2006 season with a single-season Red Sox franchise record of 54 home runs. His 541 career homers rank 17th all-time in MLB history and fourth all-time among Dominican-born players. The feared slugger retired after the 2016 season.

Hunter was an offensive and defensive star for the Twins, Angels and Tigers over the course of his 19-year career. The nine-time Gold Glove Award winner made five All-Star appearances. In 2002, Hunter became the first Twins outfielder to draw an All-Star start since Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett seven years earlier. Hunter led Minnesota to AL Central titles four times in five years from '02-06, and he was part of division-winning teams with the Angels and Tigers. He was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame in '16, a year after he retired.

Ortiz and Hunter were teammates in the Minor Leagues and with the Twins from 1997-2002.

MLB.com will live stream and MLB Network will exclusively televise the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at 4 p.m. ET, with Greg Amsinger, Harold Reynolds, Lauren Shehadi and Jim Callis calling the contest live from Nationals Park. The game will also be available to SiriusXM subscribers.

Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.

Sox can't back Price's quality start, fall to Twins

Lefty allows 3 runs on 2 HRs in 6 innings; bats go 0-for-9 with RISP
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

MINNEAPOLIS -- Unable to generate anything with runners in scoring position for the second straight night at Target Field, the Red Sox took a 4-1 loss to the Twins on Wednesday.

Boston has scored an aggregate of three runs in the first two games at Target Field, and will likely need the bats to come to life to avoid getting swept in Thursday's series finale.

View Full Game Coverage

MINNEAPOLIS -- Unable to generate anything with runners in scoring position for the second straight night at Target Field, the Red Sox took a 4-1 loss to the Twins on Wednesday.

Boston has scored an aggregate of three runs in the first two games at Target Field, and will likely need the bats to come to life to avoid getting swept in Thursday's series finale.

View Full Game Coverage

The Red Sox went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position after going 2-for-13 in Tuesday's 6-2 loss.

"Yeah, 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. We walked a few times, got our hits, but we haven't been able to drive them in," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "At the end, you have to score points to win games, and we haven't done that lately."

David Price turned in a quality start, but the Sox lost for the first time in his last eight starts. The lefty scattered seven hits and allowed three earned runs over six innings, walking one and striking out three.

"We've lost our last two games," said Price. "I'm not worried about our momentum. We need to win tomorrow."

The Red Sox (49-26) have scored two runs or fewer in four of their last six games and are two games behind the first-place Yankees in the American League East.

"We've got to get more runs on the board," said shortstop Xander Bogaerts. "Can't always depend on the pitching. It's just two games."

There were two damaging blows from the Twins. The first was the home run by Robbie Grossman to lead off the bottom of the first. The second was a two-run homer by Max Kepler to snap a 1-1 tie in the fourth. Price allowed the go-ahead blast to the lefty-hitting Kepler on a 1-2 changeup.

Video: BOS@MIN: Kepler crushes a 2-run homer to right in 4th

"Grossman in the [strike-zone] box in that bottom right corner, but that's not where I was trying to go with that pitch," said Price. "I'm not trying to get a called strike three with a cutter in to a righty. I don't know if I have one in my career to be honest. It's something I'm trying to expand in, get a swing and miss or a foul ball or hit it off his leg, something like that. And then Kepler, it's in far enough but it just needs to be down."

Video: BOS@MIN: Grossman unloads a leadoff HR to left-center

Trying to rally back in the eighth, J.D. Martinez clocked a sinking liner to right, but Kepler made a sensational diving catch.

Though Twins starter Lance Lynn walked five in his five innings, the Red Sox only mustered three hits against the righty.

"I think it's just getting back into the strike zone," said Cora. "Lynn, [97] pitches, 50 strikes, [47] balls, that's tough right there as far as hunting strikes. But you have to stay with the program. You have to stay hunting pitches in the strike zone. We did a good job to get on base but not a good job driving them in."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Holt caught in rundown: The Red Sox had just tied the game in the top of the second when Jackie Bradley Jr. reached on a throwing error by first baseman Logan Morrison, scoring Mitch Moreland. And with the dangerous Mookie Betts at the plate with runners at the corners, they had a good chance to take the lead. But as Bradley stole second on a pitch in the dirt, Holt got caught in a rundown between third and home to end the inning. Given the way the night transpired, it was a very costly out.

Video: BOS@MIN: Moreland scores on Morrison's error in 2nd

"If he throws to second, we can walk home. But that pitch, the catcher just blocked the ball and [Holt] was in no man's land and he got thrown out," said Cora. "We want to make sure he gets up and throws the ball so we can try to steal a run there. It was a pitch down and away so he wasn't going to throw it. I guess he was in no man's land there. His lead was very aggressive, and the catcher made a heads-up play and threw it behind him."

Video: BOS@MIN: Garver nabs Holt to end the top of the 2nd

SOUND SMART
The Red Sox could use a big game from Betts in the finale of this three-game series, and the right fielder has thrived against the Twins in recent years. Betts has an on-base streak of 15 straight games against Minnesota, hitting .365 (23-for-63) over that span.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the top of the eighth, Kepler made a full-extension diving catch to rob Martinez of a hit for the second out of the inning. Kepler needed to go 57 feet in 3.4 seconds in order to make the play. It was a five-star catch, according to Statcast™, with Kepler having a 4 percent catch probability.

Second-base umpire Scott Barry initially ruled that Kepler trapped the ball, but the Minnesota right fielder immediately jumped up and contested the call. The Twins challenged, and after a brief replay review, the call was overturned and ruled a catch.

Video: BOS@MIN: Max Kepler lays out to rob J.D. Martinez

UP NEXT
In the finale of a 10-game road trip through three different time zones, the Red Sox will send Rick Porcello to the mound for Thursday's 1:10 p.m. ET matinee at Target Field. Porcello has enjoyed pitching at Target Field in his career, going 6-3 with a 3.24 ERA in 12 starts. The Twins will counter with righty Kyle Gibson. Boston started the trip 4-0 but needs a victory on Thursday to post a winning record.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, David Price

Pomeranz set to resume throwing soon

Neck issues behind him, lefty working way back from biceps tendinitis
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

MINNEAPOLIS -- Red Sox lefty Drew Pomeranz is over the neck woes that stalled his throwing program and he's getting closer to throwing his first side session since he went on the disabled list at the beginning of the month with biceps tendinitis.

"Yeah, that will be good," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "I think, honestly, the shoulder is not the issue. It was just the neck the last few days. He's feeling better, so it would be good if we can get that one out of the way."

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Red Sox lefty Drew Pomeranz is over the neck woes that stalled his throwing program and he's getting closer to throwing his first side session since he went on the disabled list at the beginning of the month with biceps tendinitis.

"Yeah, that will be good," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "I think, honestly, the shoulder is not the issue. It was just the neck the last few days. He's feeling better, so it would be good if we can get that one out of the way."

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The question is this: When Pomeranz returns to the Red Sox, will he regain his spot in the rotation or move to the bullpen?

Knuckleballer Steven Wright is 1-1 with a 0.44 ERA in three starts since replacing Pomeranz.

After Pomeranz bounced back from the forearm injury that forced him to start the season late, he went 1-3 with a 6.81 ERA in eight starts before being forced back to the DL.

"We have to see where he's at first," said Cora. "Then we'll make decisions. I don't want to get ahead of myself. I know Steven is throwing the ball well. Drew was struggling early and then he found it for a little bit. As of now, the most important thing is for him to be healthy.

"He's done it in the bullpen, he's done it as a starter. He was great last year. I honestly like what we had in the bullpen with Steven. I think he was becoming a weapon. But at the same time, he's doing an outstanding job as a starter. We cannot hide that. We'll see. The first thing is for Drew to be healthy, and we'll go from there."

Cora reported that second baseman Dustin Pedroia, recovering from left knee inflammation, was also feeling a bit better on Wednesday and was able to partake in some baseball activities.

His timetable to return is still uncertain.

"Hopefully sooner than later," said Cora. "He's moving around, he was here today. He went out there, which is, I guess, a step. With him, it's kind of like, the way he feels, you see him in the clubhouse, and the way he's acting, if it's a good day or if it's a bad day. Obviously, he's doing his thing in the training room, but I talked to him today a little bit ... he said he was feeling better, so we'll see."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Drew Pomeranz

JBJ makes 'unreal' 103.4 mph throw to turn DP

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

MINNEAPOLIS -- As Jackie Bradley Jr. camped under a 317-foot fly ball to center field, it sure looked like the Twins were going to add an insurance run on what looked like a routine sacrifice fly.

Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon wasn't even sure Bradley would throw home. But by now, there can be no assumptions when Bradley is the one fielding.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- As Jackie Bradley Jr. camped under a 317-foot fly ball to center field, it sure looked like the Twins were going to add an insurance run on what looked like a routine sacrifice fly.

Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon wasn't even sure Bradley would throw home. But by now, there can be no assumptions when Bradley is the one fielding.

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Bradley circled around the ball to create a strong throwing angle for himself and unleashed an absolute laser. Leon gathered the throw -- which Statcast™ tracked at 103.4 mph -- and tagged Robbie Grossman out at the plate.

For the Red Sox, it was, without question, the highlight in Tuesday's 6-2 loss to the Twins at Target Field.

The throw was the hardest by an outfielder this season in the Majors. It was the fourth-hardest throw and third-hardest assist tracked by Statcast™ since the system began in 2015.

"Oh, unreal," manager Alex Cora said. "I saw him getting an angle, and I was like, 'This might be fun here.' It's kind of like showcase baseball. 'The scouts are looking, and I'm going to throw it as hard as I can to see if I can get him, and I did.' That was a great play."

Video: BOS@MIN: Bradley throws out Grossman, call confirmed

The hardest throw tracked by Statcast™ was by Aaron Hicks (105.5 mph) on April 20, 2016. Brett Phillips had the next two hardest (104.7 mph on Sept. 19, 2017, and 104.0 on Sept. 13, 2017).

Normally, Bradley would enjoy talking about taking part in a jaw-dropping highlight. But in this case, he was annoyed by making a fielding error on Eduardo Escobar's double earlier in the inning, which allowed a run to score, and because the Red Sox lost.

Video: BOS@MIN: Escobar plates LaMarre, error scores Mauer

"Just got behind the ball and made a throw," said Bradley, who has started three double plays this season. "I don't care about the throw."

Bradley's teammates enjoyed it.

"That was amazing," Leon said. "Just amazing. I wasn't sure if he was going to throw the ball. That was one of the best throws I've ever seen."

Leon didn't realize how hard the throw was until a reporter relayed the reading to him.

"That's insane," Leon said. "I thought it was 97-100, but wow."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Jackie Bradley Jr.

Sale fans 11 over 7, but Red Sox fall to Twins

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Chris Sale pitches this season, the Red Sox are a .500 team. This is no fault of Sale's.

The left-handed ace was electric again on Tuesday night at Target Field, but the Red Sox lost, 6-2, in the series opener against the Twins.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- When Chris Sale pitches this season, the Red Sox are a .500 team. This is no fault of Sale's.

The left-handed ace was electric again on Tuesday night at Target Field, but the Red Sox lost, 6-2, in the series opener against the Twins.

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Sale (2.74 ERA) took a no-decision, but he deserved better, allowing two runs on three hits over seven innings, while walking one and striking out 11.

"It's part of it," Sale said. "I think you can look at Jacob deGrom and probably feel even worse for him. It happens. I'm not going to hang my head about it."

Video: BOS@MIN: Sale locks up Mauer with a filthy slider

The Red Sox left 11 runners on base, and the Twins took control of the game in the eighth, scoring four runs against relievers Robby Scott and Joe Kelly.

"We need to do a better job with men in scoring position," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "It seems like we've been struggling lately in those spots."

In the 102 innings Sale has pitched this season, the Red Sox have scored just 53 runs. The club is 8-8 in Sale's 16 starts.

"Yeah, I was just talking to somebody, and that's the way the game goes," Cora said. "You see Eduardo [Rodriguez], and we're 12-1 [with him], so it evens out. One thing about [Sale], he controls what he can control, and he's showing up every day whenever he pitches and gives us a chance to win. We have to do a better job in those cases of scoring runs for him."

Sale exited after 105 pitches, at which point things deteriorated rapidly for the Red Sox. Scott, who was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket earlier in the day, was brought in to face No. 9 hitter Ryan LaMarre, and then two lefties at the top of the order in Joe Mauer and Eddie Rosario.

Scott walked LaMarre and hit Mauer. After he retired Rosario on a flyout to center, Cora went to Kelly. Eduardo Escobar, who came through earlier in the game with a two-run double off Sale, ripped another double against Kelly, with a pair of runs scoring on the play to make it 4-2.

Video: BOS@MIN: Escobar plates LaMarre, error scores Mauer

"Of course coming into that situation, any situation, you can't walk the leadoff guy there," Scott said. "And then the pitch to Mauer, I felt like we had him leaning over looking outer half, trying to go that way, and I thought, 'We can get a fastball up and in.' Flipped it up in there and flipped his jersey."

Sale was untouchable early, retiring the first 14 batters he faced. When the Twins got their first hit, it was an infield bleeder down the third-base line by Ehire Adrianza with two outs in the fifth.

Video: BOS@MIN: Devers cracks a solo HR to right in the 6th

Twins starter Jose Berrios lived up to his end of the duel, as the game was scoreless until Rafael Devers belted a solo shot to right with two outs in the sixth. It was the second consecutive game Devers has gone deep, and this one traveled a Statcast-projected 418 feet.

In Sale's last three starts, he's given up four runs in 21 innings, striking out 30 and holding opponents to a .151 average.

"I feel like I've been able to put it together the last few times out," Sale said. "A lot of work went into that, too, not just from myself, but [pitching coach] Dana [LeVangie], [bullpen coach Craig Bjornson] and everybody involved. There are a couple things we have to work on and get through. Collectively, as a group, we've been able to find it and keep rolling with it."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Early squander: The way Sale was pitching early on, a few early runs could have gone a long way. The Red Sox had a good chance to get on the board in the fourth, when J.D. Martinez and Mitch Moreland led off with singles. But Devers struck out, Eduardo Nunez popped up and Sandy Leon flied out to end that threat.

"Devers swung at a pitch up in the zone, and Eduardo, he chased, he was looking for a breaking ball and he didn't square it up. In those situations, we have to do a better job," Cora said. "We had our chances. [Berrios] is one of the best pitchers in the league, so whenever you have a chance, you have to cash in."

SOUND SMART
Sale has nine or more strikeouts in nine of his 16 starts this year. The only pitcher in the Majors with more starts with nine or more K's is Nationals ace Max Scherzer, who has done it 12 times.

Video: BOS@MIN: Sale strikes out Escobar looking to end 1st

HE SAID IT
"I know these guys in here want to win. I know they're not doing anything different on my day. Maybe I'll bring popsicles or something for the boys." -- Sale, taking his lack of run support in stride

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
It seemed the Twins had a sure sacrifice fly when Adrianza hit a 317-foot fly ball to center with one out in the eighth. But Jackie Bradley Jr. camped under it and made one of the strongest throws you'll see, a 103.4 mph laser to nab Robbie Grossman at the plate.

It was the fourth-hardest throw by an outfielder tracked by Statcast™ since the system began in 2015. The Twins issued a challenge, saying that catcher Leon illegally blocked the plate. However, the replay confirmed that the play was clean, and the Red Sox had their double play, the third started by Bradley this season. More >

Video: BOS@MIN: Bradley Jr. launches hardest throw of '18

UP NEXT
Left-hander David Price, who has been rolling for more than a month, will try to keep his momentum when he pitches on Wednesday night against the Twins at 8:10 p.m. ET. Price is 6-0 with a 2.64 ERA in his last seven starts, all of which the Red Sox have won. The Twins counter with right-hander Lance Lynn.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Chris Sale

Mookie, J.D. maintain starting spots on ASB

Moreland, seeking first All-Star selection, is second at first base
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

MINNEAPOLIS -- While Red Sox stars Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez remain in command at their respective positions in the latest round of All-Star balloting, first baseman Mitch Moreland also remains in contention to be a starter at the Midsummer Classic.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

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MINNEAPOLIS -- While Red Sox stars Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez remain in command at their respective positions in the latest round of All-Star balloting, first baseman Mitch Moreland also remains in contention to be a starter at the Midsummer Classic.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

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And the support has started within the clubhouse for Moreland, who has 472,245 votes, placing him second behind White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu (636,666).

"Mitch has been really good. I don't think he gets the amount of love he should be getting," Red Sox starter David Price said. "Obviously Mookie is going to be an All-Star. He doesn't need votes. J.D. doesn't need votes either. Vote for Mitch."

Moreland has never been an All-Star.

Video: BOS@SEA: Moreland drives in 2 with a single to center

"The season he's had, starting off as kind of the backup, playing against righties here and there. For him to take over that first-base job every day in the way he's done it, he's an All-Star, and he needs to get there," Price said.

Moreland entered Tuesday's game against the Twins with 10 homers, 33 RBIs and an .882 OPS in 181 at-bats.

Betts leads outfielders with 1,568,417 votes. The Angels' Mike Trout and the Yankees' Aaron Judge are currently on pace to join him in the starting outfield for the American League.

Video: BOS@BAL: Betts belts 1st homer since coming off DL

Martinez, who is on the ballot at designated hitter, has 1,119,263 votes, more than double his nearest competitor in the Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton (478,872).

Fans may cast votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot until Thursday, July 5, at 11:59 p.m. ET. On smartphones and tablets, fans can also access the ballot via the MLB At Bat and MLB Ballpark mobile apps. Each fan can vote up to five times in any 24-hour period, for a maximum of 35 ballots cast.

Following the announcement of this year's All-Star starters, reserves and pitchers, fans should return to MLB.com and cast their 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Final Vote for the final player on each league's roster. Then on Tuesday, July 17, while watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, fans may visit MLB.com to submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.

The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, please visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland