Closing Time: Red Sox waste David Ortiz’s big night, suffer walkoff loss to Twins
|05.13.14 at 11:54 pm ET|
Andrew Miller had emerged as perhaps the most dominating Red Sox bullpen weapon for much of the first six weeks of the season. Night after night, the tall lefty lumbered in from the bullpen, stood on the mound and towered over nearly every hitter who came to the plate. His mix of mid- to high-90s heat and a devastating slider rendered him virtually unhittable. In fact, entering Tuesday, he hadn’t allowed a hit in any of his prior five innings while punching out 11.
It appeared that Miller was on the way to more of the same on Tuesday night in Minnesota, racking up two quick punchouts. But a two-out single by Kurt Suzuki extended the inning. With a light-hitting lefty in Chris Parmelee in the batter’s box for just the sixth time this season against southpaw, the situation was perfect for Miller to get the right fielder out on a couple of pitches to send the game in extras.
The first pitch, a 94 mph fastball, blew by Parmelee. Parmelee’s late hack suggested that Miller would be able to blow by the Twins right fielder and give the Red Sox a chance to score in the tenth inning.
But Miller left the next fastball over the heart of the plate, a 94 mph fastball right in Parmelee’s wheelhouse.
A big swing later, the ball kept going and going, clearing the fence and sending the Red Sox to an 8-6 walkoff loss to the Twins.
And just like that, Miller looked down, visibly frustrated. For the first time in a little over a year, Miller walked off the field, the losing pitcher for the Red Sox. The home run was the first he’d allowed this year, and spoiled a spirited Red Sox comeback that saw the team erase deficits of 5-1 and 6-2 with four runs in the sixth and seventh innings.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
— Throughout his 4 1/3 inning outing, Jake Peavy struggled to command his whole arsenal of pitches, leaving fastballs over the heart of the plate and missing the edges of the strike zone with his off-speed and breaking pitches, totaling two walks and just one strikeout while getting charged with six runs on the evening. The six runs represented a season-high yield, while the outing also marked the first time this year that Peavy failed to log at least five innings.
Peavy’s second inning highlighted the righty’s issues, when he allowed a home run and an RBI double and single with all three hits coming on fastballs left over the middle part of the plate.
Coming into Tuesday, Peavy had posted a 3.86 ERA in the second inning through seven starts. Peavy’s ERA total can be somewhat misleading due to his propensity so far this season to pitch out of jams. Peavy’s FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) — which measures what a player’s ERA might be expected to look like based on strikeouts, walks and home runs — was 5.26 entering Tuesday, nearly a run and a half greater than Peavy’s pre-game ERA of 3.78. As pointed out by Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, only five qualified pitchers in the majors have a bigger discrepancy between FIP and ERA.
— A.J. Pierzynski had one of the worst offensive nights of his career, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts (just the 16th time in his career that he’s whiffed three or more times) and grounding into a double play. The dreadful night drove Pierzynski’s OBP to .307, its lowest point since April 23. The cherry on top for Pierzynski’s evening came when he struck out looking on a Caleb Thielbar 3-2 fastball with the bases loaded and the go-ahead run on third base in the seventh inning. That his struggle should come against the Twins was particularly intriguing, given both that he started his career with the Twins and he was offered a multi-year deal to return to Minnesota this past offseason, but instead turned that opportunity down in order to sign a one-year deal with Boston.
— Left-hander Chris Capuano‘s recent struggles with control continued, as he worked around a pair of hits and two walks in his 1 2/3 innings without getting charged with a run. Capuano has walked six batters in his last 5 1/3 innings spanning seven appearances after walking just one batter in his first 14 innings of work this year.
— Following his 0-for-4 performance, third baseman Will Middlebrooks fell below the Mendoza Line, finishing the night with a .197 average overall on the season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
— David Ortiz had one of the more impressive offensive nights of his career, going 4-for-4 (matching a career high in hits) and demolishing two home runs to left centerfield that, combined, left the park in the blink of an eye. Ortiz has started off the month of May scorching hot, coming into Tuesday’s game hitting .308/.413/.564 with two home runs, five RBI and four doubles. The two-home run performance marked the 42nd time Ortiz pulled off the feat in his career. The contest marked the first time in Ortiz’s career that he went deep twice in a game in Minnesota — a surprising development given that Ortiz started his big league career with the Twins. The second home run also was Ortiz’s 382 in a Red Sox uniform, tying him with Jim Rice for third all-time on the Red Sox home run list.
–– On a ball that the left-handed hitting Mauer sliced down the left field line, Grady Sizemore made an impressive diving catch by reading the ball and spin well off the bat and going into a headfirst dive to make the catch close to the line. Sizemore continues to make the adjustment to the corner outfield position after playing center field for his entire career prior to 2014. The catch was indicative of the 31-year-old reading the ball well off the bat in left field, something that is different from reading the spin of the ball from center.
— Xander Bogaerts collected his second extra-base hit of May with a triple in the second inning. The triple was Bogaerts’ first extra-base hit since May 1. Coming into Tuesday’s contest, Bogaerts had one hit in his last 16 at-bats and had gone eight straight games without an extra-base hit.
— Mike Napoli‘s walk in the seventh inning extended the first baseman’s on-base streak to 32 games, which was the longest single-season on-base streak for a Red Sox player since Dustin Pedroia‘s 37-game streak in June and July of 2011.
— Jonny Gomes battled Matt Guerrier during a 10-pitch at-bat and wore down the righty, drawing a walk that brought in the tying run for the Red Sox in the seventh inning. It was just the second RBI of the season by a Red Sox pinch-hitter.