4 takeaways as Red Sox slide continues with loss to Twins

Red Sox

A bad fifth inning doomed the Red Sox to their second straight loss.

Red Sox
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Brayan Bello delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins. AP Photo/Abbie Parr

The Red Sox dropped their series opener against the Twins on Monday, falling 4-2.

Here’s what happened.

The Big Picture

Through four innings, Monday’s game between the Red Sox and Twins looked like it might be a rare bright spot for the struggling Red Sox — a win led by the future of the pitching staff in Brayan Bello, who threw some of the better pitches in his young career.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox offense got on the board first with a double by Alex Verdugo in the top of the third that drove in Tommy Pham. Verdugo moved to third on a single by Xander Bogaerts but was visibly frustrated with himself at third base when Rafael Devers’ one-out fly-ball failed to score him shortly afterward. The Red Sox added a second run in the top of the fourth when Reese McGuire doubled in Trevor Story.

Bello limited the Twins to a single run in the fourth despite loading the bases with nobody out. But the 23-year-old’s nice outing unraveled in the bottom of the fifth when he walked a pair of batters to lead off the frame. Alex Cora pulled him from the game, and Bello left with his glove over his mouth to cover his thoughts on the sequence of events.

Matt Strahm set down two batters but walked one. Then John Schreiber gave up a three-run double to Gio Urshela, which gave the Twins a 4-2 lead.

That spelled the end of the scoring, as the Twins held off the Red Sox to take the series opener.

Star of the Game

Trevor Story – 3-for-3, run, walk

The Red Sox lost, but Story reached base all four times he batted on Monday in his second game back from the injured list.

What It Means

The Blue Jays beat the Cubs in extra innings, pushing the Red Sox back eight games from the final slot in the wild-card standings.

Takeaways

1. Bello threw plenty of good pitches in his first four innings and got six whiffs on his changeup while showing some progress with his slider.

Maybe it was a bad sign that a number of those pitches were called balls.

Bad calls weren’t the only issue for the Red Sox, of course, but the home-plate umpire seemed to have a difficult evening (which NESN’s Red Sox announcers highlighted many times during the broadcast).

2. In more positive news, 27-year-old reliever Zack Kelly — who signed a meager $500 signing bonus as an undrafted free agent in 2017 — made his major-league debut and pitched a scoreless sixth inning with two strikeouts and a hit. Kelly fanned the first batter he faced.

After the game, Kelly was spotted emerging from the dugout to hug his father, who was in attendance.

The Red Sox designated Hirokazu Sawamura and Austin Davis for assignment on Sunday to make room for Kelly and Kaleb Ort, who pitched the final two innings. Ort drew six whiffs on 10 swings against his fastball and allowed no hits or runs despite walking a pair of batters.

3. Remember when Rafael Devers’ defense was a question mark?

Of course, shortly after this, Devers appeared to forget how many outs the Red Sox had recorded. After fielding a ground ball with runners on first and second and one out, he jogged to third and tapped the bag then headed toward the dugout — opting not to throw to first. Fortunately for the Red Sox, the damage was mitigated when Max Kepler flew out to right.

4. Twins reliever Jhoan Duran topped 102 mph on his fastball four times and hit 103 twice. He also fired a 100.8 mph sinker. The 24-year-old has a 1.94 ERA in 55.2 innings pitched with a 0.97 WHIP.

The Red Sox and Twins face off again on Tuesday at 7:40 p.m.

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