Twins lose 7th straight game to Red Sox at Fenway
BOSTON — One losing streak had just ended for the Minnesota Twins. But another one continued.
They left New York a few days ago having lost two of three games but content that they ended a 12-game losing streak to the Yankees in Yankee Stadium.
Now replace that streak with the run-off losses at historic Fenway Park in Boston, where the Twins were beaten 6-2 on Thursday and have now lost seven consecutive games here.
Thursday's game wasn't much of a contest as Boston hit two homers and three doubles in the first six innings and never were threatened.
It also marked another streak for the Twins — three consecutive losses. They flew back to the Twin Cities Thursday night after a 2-5 road trip and a season-long losing streak and fell into a first-place tie with Detroit.
The Twins didn't have to make a statement on this road trip, but they did — that they need to be a little better if they want to be taken seriously.
Their lineup is strong enough to hit good pitching, yet the Twins averaged just 3.6 runs a game during the seven-game trip. They ran into three good arms in Toronto's Shaun Marcum, and Boston's Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester to finish the trip and couldn't figure them out.
Marcum had them beating balls into the ground all day Tuesday. Buchholz and Lester painted the corners the next two nights. Except for Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, no one stepped up at the plate — and the offense sputtered toward the end of the trip. Orlando Hudson was doubled up three times on the basepaths during the road trip.
The starting rotation struggled. Kevin Slowey lasted just five innings Monday and Carl Pavano was blasted Tuesday. On Thursday, lefthander Francisco Liriano didn't fare much better. Adrian Beltre, who entered the game with more errors (seven) than homers (two), hit one over the right-field fence in the second and Kevin Youkilis crushed a three-run homer to center in the third.
Liriano labored through 80 pitches over the first four innings and was knocked out in the fifth on Youkilis' RBI double. In four May starts, Liriano, the AL pitcher of the month in April, is 1-3 with a 6.08 ERA. When Liriano is locked in, the Twins are tough to beat, making him vital to their success.
The road trip started with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire worrying about having enough bench players, leading to him placing J.J. Hardy on the disabled list and calling up Matt Tolbert from Class AAA Rochester.
Five games into the trip, Gardenhire changed course, calling up righthander Jeff Manship from Rochester to bolster a bullpen following a heavy workload in Toronto. Unfortunately, Manship was needed Thursday as the Red Sox pulled away.
Lefthander Jose Mijares still is working his way back from early elbow problems and can't be trusted in setup situations yet. Righthander Jesse Crain's struggles have gotten so bad that he's only pitching when the game isn't on the line.
Flaws will be exposed when matched up with good teams, and the Twins struggled in more than one area during this road trip. There's roughly three-fourths of the schedule left to be played. The Twins begin interleague play this weekend, which they have had great success with over the years.
There's plenty of time and opportunities for the Twins to forget about their 2-5 road trip and get back to a higher level of play.
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