By Rhett Bollinger and Ian Browne
MLB.com |@IanMBrowne |
MINNEAPOLIS -- Ricky Nolasco picked up career win No. 100 with a season-high 7 2/3 innings, and was backed by a six-run second inning from the Twins in a 7-2 win over the Red Sox on Monday afternoon at Target Field.
Nolasco retired 15 of the final 16 batters he faced, and gave up two runs on six hits, while striking out five and walking none. The right-hander improved to 5-0 with a 3.77 ERA in five starts since missing nearly a month with right elbow inflammation. It helped the Twins improve to a season-high eight games above .500 at 26-18.
"It's a good way to open the homestand," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Some trends continued, which are good trends. And Ricky was really good today."
He outpitched Red Sox right-hander Joe Kelly, who lasted just 1 2/3 innings. The Twins scored in the first on a sacrifice fly from Joe Mauer to bring in Brian Dozier before tacking on six runs in the second. Minnesota opened the inning with four straight hits, including an RBI double from Eduardo Nunez and an RBI single from Eddie Rosario. Trevor Plouffe provided the fireworks on Memorial Day with a three-run blast to cap the six-run inning.
"The attitude, the feel, the energy level in the clubhouse this morning was built upon the last two days, and to go out and to have a game like today is very disappointing," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Twins chase Kelly in second: Minnesota started the second with four consecutive hits en route to the six-run outburst. Plouffe's homer highlighted the rally, and Farrell pulled Kelly after just 1 2/3 innings. More >
"It was a 3-2 slider," Plouffe said. "I battled two fastballs on the outside corner and I had a feeling something else might be coming. He kind of guided that one up there and I was able to stay back on it."
Kelly rocked: After turning in two straight solid starts, Kelly (1-4), took a significant step back, giving up eight hits and seven runs and throwing just 52 pitches. This is the fifth time in his nine starts he's allowed five runs or more. More >
"It's not ideal, but I've just got to keep pitching," said Kelly of his inconsistency.
Hicks robs Nava: With a one-run lead in the top of the second and a runner in scoring position, Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks robbed Daniel Nava of an RBI hit. Hicks broke in and splayed out, reaching a top speed of 21.5 mph on the play, according to Statcast™ data.
"It seems like every day he does something," Molitor said. "He saved a run on that ball I don't think a lot of people could've caught."
Barnes picks up bullpen: When Kelly was lifted in the second, Farrell feared it was going to be a long day for his bullpen. But Matt Barnes made the situation easier by firing 3 2/3 shutout innings. The righty gave up five hits and no walks while striking out five. Barnes threw a season-high 58 pitches before handing off to Craig Breslow in the sixth. More >
"All the people who said we weren't going to do anything and I told you we were. Look what we're doing." -- Torii Hunter, on Minnesota's surprising start
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With a run in the first, the Twins have scored in the opening frame in six of their past seven games. They've scored first in eight straight games, and are 19-6 in games in which they score before their opponent.
Red Sox left fielder Hanley Ramirez finally had an RBI on Monday, his first in May. The stretch of 18 straight games without an RBI was the second longest of his career.
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: Right-hander Clay Buchholz takes the ball for the Red Sox on Tuesday at 8:10 p.m. ET, trying to continue the momentum from three solid starts in a row.
Twins: Right-hander Mike Pelfrey takes the mound for the Twins as they look to take their seventh series win in eight tries Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Pelfrey took a no-decision in his last start, allowing one run on five hits in six innings against Pittsburgh.