A pair of seven-game winners will take the mound on Wednesday night in the rubber match of the three-game series between the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis.
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (7-4, 4.67 ERA) gets the nod for Boston, while right-hander Kyle Gibson (7-3, 3.70) will start for Minnesota.
Both will be counted on to pitch deep into the game after both teams used nine pitchers in the Twins’ 4-3, 17-inning victory on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. The 5-hour, 45-minute contest, the longest in Target Field history, didn’t end until 12:55 a.m. local time.
Gibson, who is 2-3 with a 2.68 ERA in six career starts against the Red Sox, stuck around till the very end and dumped the Gatorade bucket on Max Kepler during the right fielder’s on-field interview afterward.
Kepler, who hit a game-tying homer in the 13th inning after Mookie Betts put Boston in front with a home run off the left field foul pole in the top half, won it with a bases-loaded single down the first base line against a five-man infield that included Betts.
Kepler, who entered the game as a pinch hitter for Marwin Gonzalez in the sixth inning, became the first player to have both a game-tying RBI and a walk-off RBI in the 13th inning or later since the Milwaukee Brewers’ Willie Randolph on May 1, 1991.
“Just get a good pitch to hit and put it in play,” Kepler said when asked what he was thinking before his hit that provided the first walk-off win of the season for the Twins. “At the end of the day, it’s a win, and that’s all that matters.”
“I don’t think those moments really bother him very much,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said of Kepler. “He has really good at-bats all the time … You look at the year that he’s having, it’s an All-Star caliber season.”
The result snapped a two-game losing streak for the Twins, who improved to 5-0 this season following back-to-back losses.
“That was one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of ever in baseball,” Baldelli said. “I think a lot of people in that clubhouse can say the same thing. Couldn’t be prouder of our players and our staff and the way we went about our business for six hours or whatever it was.
“You want to be on the winning side of those games, but win or lose, I’d probably be standing here saying the exact same thing. On top of being proud of our guys, we battled it out and did everything we had to do and continued to grind away in a way we haven’t had to this year. … That was a pretty unique game, unique experience, pushing yourself to the limit. … It was fantastic.”
Boston finished with 17 hits but was just 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position. It was a particularly rough night for designated hitter J.D. Martinez, who went 0-for-8 with five strikeouts.
“We did everything today — hit-and-runs, bunts, steals, everything — and pushed the envelope,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “But in the end, we didn’t score enough runs.”
Rodriguez is 1-1 with a 3.91 ERA in four career starts against Minnesota, and he is 0-0 with a 5.91 ERA in two career starts at Target Field.
–Field Level Media
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