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Closing Time: Super Brock, Jon Lester lead Red Sox past Twins

06.17.14 at 10:02 pm ET
By
Brock Holt

Brock Holt

Is there anything he can’t do? To this point, the answer has been no.

Brock Holt continued to play like someone armed with a cape, not just because he went 2-for-4 and scored both Red Sox runs, but also because of his remarkable display of versatility.

In his first career start in center field, Holt made a memorable, spectacular play in the top of the third inning with two outs. Brian Dozier lofted what appeared to be a routine fly ball to left, but left fielder Jonny Gomes lost the ball’s flight against the sky. Out of what seemed like nowhere, Holt sprinted to the ball — perhaps 30 feet from Gomes and behind him — and made a diving, tumbling catch to keep Dozier off the bases and end the inning.

Since May 20, Holt has become the Sox’ most valuable player. He’s started all 27 games, bouncing from third base to first to left field to right to center, with the constant shifting doing nothing to detract from his offense. Indeed, he’s been a force, hitting .355 with a .388 OBP and .496 slugging mark.

He led off the game with a single, improving to 9-for-26 (.346) in the first Sox at-bat of the game, and came around to score. He then doubled to lead off the third, stole third and scored on a sac fly to account for the other Red Sox run in a 2-1 victory over the Twins.

Phrases no one anticipated coming out of spring training: Where would the Red Sox be without Brock Holt? On a night where the 26-year-old accounted for all of his team’s run-scoring, it appears safe to suggest the Sox would rather not know the answer.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Jon Lester labored through a 33-pitch first, but navigated that stressful frame without permitting a run, then settled to retire the next 11 straight batters and ultimately lasted 6 1/3 innings in which he gave up just one run on four hits while walking one and punching out six. It was Lester’s sixth start of the year in which he allowed one or zero runs, lowering his ERA to 3.20.

Burke Badenhop retired the only batter he faced, giving him a streak of 26 consecutive appearances without permitting an earned run, the third longest such stretch in Red Sox history behind Koji Uehara (31) and Tony Fossas (30). He set in motion 2 2/3 scoreless innings from the bullpen, lowering Boston’s relief ERA to 2.77, second best in the American League.

Dustin Pedroia scalded a run-scoring double to left-center to plate Holt with the game’s first run, and later slammed a ball high off the Wall in left field that he hit so hard that he was thrown out at second. Pedroia now has three doubles and three walks in his last five games, offering hints of both the selectivity and ability to drive the ball for which he’s been searching for much of this year.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– The Red Sox offense remains anemic. The team has scored two or fewer runs in four straight games and in seven of its last nine.

Jonny Gomes struck out in all three at-bats, giving him three games this year in which he’s whiffed three times. He’s striking out in 27 percent of his plate appearances this year.

David Ross had a tough night, with a first-inning foul ball bouncing off the dirt and catching him in the neck and then looking overmatched by fastball velocity, as Phil Hughes was able to blow him away with mid-90s fastballs.

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