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Closing Time: Behind Rubby De La Rosa’s gem, Red Sox win pitchers’ duel with Twins

06.16.14 at 9:55 pm ET
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The Red Sox rotation is about to get a little more crowded with the impending return of Felix Doubront and Clay Buchholz, but Rubby De La Rosa made his case to stick around in the majors for a while longer in the Red Sox‘  1-0 over the Twins on Monday night.

De La Rosa was dominant against the Twins, allowing just one hit in his seven innings of work while striking out three, including a a swinging strikeout of Brian Dozier after a 10-pitch battle. The righty was effectively wild at times, walking three, but he issued just one free pass after the first inning. The only hit he permitted, a line-drive single to center field off the bat of Danny Santana, ended up resulting in an out as Sam Fuld was caught in a rundown between third and home.

The 25-year-old actually got better as the night wore on against the Twins, retiring 13 straight to finish his night. He elicited 12 outs via ground ball, as the Twins simply couldn’t put the barrel on the ball against him.

It was his pitch count that forced De La Rosa out of the game after seven innings, even though he was cruising. Despite walking just three batters, De La Rosa ran three-ball counts on eight hitters, including 3-0 counts to six hitters. He ended with 106 pitches on the outing, with 62 going for strikes (just 58 percent).

De La Rosa was reliant on his electric fastball, as always, occasionally touching as high as 99 with his heater and throwing it 60 percent of the time. Of the six swings and misses he got on the evening, five of them came when he changed speeds with the changeup while the sixth came off of a 94 mph fastball.

Though he had virtually no margin for error, De La Rosa ultimately looked like a pitcher in complete command, someone who has given the Red Sox a welcome dilemma. Either he stays in the rotation, or he gives the Sox a credible depth option in Triple-A should the need for a starter arise again. In four starts, he has a 2.84 ERA with 23 strikeouts and seven walks in 25 1/3 innings, with opponents hitting .231 against him.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Stephen Drew‘s bat is coming to life, with the shortstop going 2-for-3 with a double (his first extra-base hit of the season) and a single, his second multi-hit game in as many days. Drew is now 5-for-21 on the year.

Daniel Nava went 1-for-2 with a single and scored the only run of the contest, advancing from first to third on Drew’s single (while Drew was gunned down trying to stretch it into a double) and coming home on A.J. Pierzynski‘s sac fly. Nava is batting .423 over his last nine contests.

– Pierzynski drove in the only run of the evening with his sacrifice fly to left field in the fifth. The catcher ranks second on the club with 30 RBIs on the season, behind just David Ortiz.

– Though things got a little interesting in the eighth, the Red Sox bullpen was able to hold down the Red Sox‘ narrow lead. Andrew Miller struck out the only batter he faced, and although he loaded the bases on two hits and and a hit batter, Burke Badenhop was able to get Brian Dozier swinging to end the threat.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– Despite pulling out the victory, the Red Sox still are struggling mightily on offense. It was the fourth time in their last eight games scoring one run or less, and sixth time in the last eight games they’ve scored two runs or fewer. They’ve tallied just five runs over their last three contests. With the victory, the Red Sox are now 4-24 when scoring three runs or less in a game.

–  The Twins swiped two bases through the first three innings, and in both cases, Pierzynski was unable to get a grip on the baseball, with the ball popping out of his hand in identical fashion on both occasions. He’€™s thrown out just 23 percent of base runners, below the league average of 27 percent.

Mike Napoli was one of two members of the starting nine who didn’t reach base on Monday night, going 0-for-4 and stranding three runners on base. He had previously hit safely in four straight games.

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