Bogaerts' slam, Cora's fiery chat lift Sox to victory

September 1st, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS -- It didn’t go exactly as planned, but made the pitches he needed to at just the right time.

Barnes pitched out of a two-on, no-out jam in the ninth inning on Wednesday to close out a 6-5 victory for the Red Sox, preventing a sweep at the hands of the Twins at Target Field.

The Sox led 5-0 early -- thanks to ' grand slam and 's solo shot in the third inning -- but the Twins chipped away, with Nick Gordon’s two-run double in the eighth cutting the lead to 6-5. Barnes, who pitched an inning and gave up two runs on Tuesday, came on to nail it down in the ninth, but the inning quickly threatened to spin out of control.

Gilberto Celestino led off with a slow roller that second baseman charged, but the ball eluded his grasp for an infield single. Barnes then walked Gary Sánchez, putting the tying run on second with nobody out.

The next man up was AL batting leader Luis Arraez, who already had a home run and three RBIs on the night. Barnes fell behind 2-1, but he threw a four-seam fastball that got in on Arraez’s hands, resulting in a weak fly to left for the first out.

That brought up Carlos Correa in the exact type of spot the Twins envisioned when they signed the star shortstop to a three-year, $105.3 million deal in the offseason. It also prompted a visit to the mound by Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who didn’t appear to be talking strategy in an intense, mostly one-way conversation.

The result was exactly what Cora intended. Barnes got Correa to hit a routine grounder to Bogaerts, who started a 6-4-3 double play to end it.

Cora didn’t go into detail about the mound conversation, but catcher appreciated it.

“Whatever it takes,” Plawecki said with a laugh. “Now I know how to get Matty going a little bit.”

Starting pitcher was even more succinct. “That’s the visit of the year, right there,” he quipped.

It helped the Red Sox snap a three-game losing streak as they head back to Fenway Park for a four-game set against the Rangers over the weekend, desperate to claw their way back into the playoff picture in the AL.

“We know the odds. We know how it works,” Cora said. “But I’ve seen teams win 20 in a row before. That can happen. We won 20 out of 29 at one point during the season. Obviously, it’s an uphill battle, but we want to play good baseball.”

The Red Sox will head into that series with one of the hottest hitters in the Majors on their side. Bogaerts went 2-for-4 with a walk, giving him multiple hits in six of his past seven games. And his two hits on Wednesday were arguably the two biggest of the game for the Red Sox.

After watching Minnesota take advantage of multiple miscues in the first two games of the series, the Red Sox jumped ahead by making the Twins pay for one of their own mistakes.

With runners on the corners and nobody out in the third inning, Alex Verdugo hit a one-hopper to first baseman José Miranda. When Plawecki broke for home, Miranda decided to pass on a potential double play and try to cut off the run.

However, instead of running at Plawecki, Miranda threw immediately to the plate, and Plawecki beat catcher Sandy León’s relay back to third. That loaded the bases for Bogaerts, who lined an 0-1 pitch from Twins starter Joe Ryan just over the railing in left-center field. Bogaerts’ sixth career grand slam, which left the bat at 113.0 mph, was his hardest-hit home run since Statcast began tracking in 2015.

Two batters later, Martinez blasted a solo shot to left. It was his second home run in four games, a welcome sight to the Red Sox after their slugging DH went 34 games (July 11 to Aug. 27) without a homer.

Wacha was cruising, having retired the first eight batters, when the Twins bit him for a quick two runs. León hit a two-out single, and Arraez stroked a full-count changeup into the stands in right to make it 5-2.

But Bogaerts wasn’t finished. Plawecki led off the sixth with his third hit of the night, a double off reliever Jovani Moran. Two strikeouts later, the Twins had the option of intentionally walking Bogaerts to face the struggling Rafael Devers (0-for-5, 3 strikeouts). But they decided to pitch to Bogaerts, and they paid the price as the Boston shortstop sliced a double down the right field line to drive in his fifth run of the night.

Wacha Shines Again
Wacha was off to a hot start in his first season with the Red Sox when he was put on the IL with right shoulder inflammation in late June. But when he returned on Aug. 14, the righty picked up right where he left off. On Wednesday, he gave up two runs over six innings while fanning seven to win his fourth straight start, running his record to 10-1 with a 2.56 ERA.

“He’s been doing that the whole season,” Cora said. “It’s a guy that we missed for a while. The strike throwing, going deep into the games, understanding what he means to carry the load when we need to, it was another great outing for him.”

Wacha appeared to be in command from the start, pitching with confidence and keeping the Twins hitters off balance with a mix of effective pitches.

“That’s when I’m best -- filling up the zone, keeping that pace going, keeping the pressure on them, getting in pitcher counts and staying on the attack.” Wacha said.

His catcher was especially impressed with Wacha’s changeup on the night.

“It was great,” Plawecki said. “The sinker, a little tough locating it, so we were able to make good pitches down and away with the four-seam and use his changeup and his breaking ball and slider. He did a great job.”