MLB: Scoring early key to Twins’ resurgence
Sports Xchange MINNEAPOLIS -- In what has become a routine occurrence for the Minnesota Twins, early run support buoyed a strong pitching performance en route to a win. Monday against the Boston Red Sox, that recipe played out perfectly, as the T...
MINNEAPOLIS - In what has become a routine occurrence for the Minnesota Twins, early run support buoyed a strong pitching performance en route to a win.
Monday against the Boston Red Sox, that recipe played out perfectly, as the Twins opened a six-game home stand with a 7-2 win.
After scoring once in the top of the first, a six-run second inning blew the game wide open and knocked Red Sox right-hander Joe Kelly from the game after just 1 2/3 innings of work. It’s the kind of performance that can have an effect on the rest of the series as Boston’s bullpen saw significant work, although the damage was mitigated some by Matt Barnes 3 1/3 innings in relief of Kelly.
For Minnesota, scoring early has been a trademark the last few weeks. Early run support was crucial in two wins against the Chicago White Sox over the weekend as well as a pair of road wins in Pittsburgh against the Pirates last week. The Twins’ 97 runs over the first three innings is the most in the Majors.
“We like to call it keeping the foot down,” Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe said. “Put the pedal to the medal; when we get chances, don’t be satisfied with one or two runs, let’s go for three or four, and we’ve been able to do that.”
Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco was the beneficiary of the support, allowing two runs in a season-high 7 2/3 innings of work, improving to 5-1 with the victory.
After surrendering two runs in the top of the third inning, Nolasco settled in, retiring 15 of the final 16 men he faced. And while having good stuff was certainly part of the equation, having a big lead to work with also allowed Nolasco to pump the strike zone. It was the first time he did not walk a batter this season.
“Normally, you can go out there and challenge guys a little more,” Nolasco said. “But I tried that the last couple of times. I know the scouting report on me is swing early because I’m going to be throwing a lot of strikes. I’ve changed my mindset on that, trying to make better pitches early and try not to fall into that gap of just laying it in there for them.”