Hanley Ramirez and Max Kepler are both coming off impressive games at the plate on Wednesday night, and they’ll hope to keep their hot hands as the Boston Red Sox host the Minnesota Twins in the opener of a four-game weekend series on Thursday.
Ramirez had a career night in Wednesday’s 11-7 shootout win over the San Francisco Giants at Fenway Park, clubbing three two-run homers and driving in a career-high six RBIs.
“A great night for Hanley, both offensively and defensively,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Ramirez, who also flashed the leather and made some impressive plays in the field.
Ramirez’s heroics boosted Boston (53-39) to a season-best 14 games above .500 with its sixth consecutive win at Fenway. The Red Sox are 11-3 in July after sweeping the two-game series.
Boston also reclaimed sole possession of first place in the American League East for the first time since June 4.
Kepler, meanwhile, hit a tiebreaking solo home run with two outs in the ninth that propelled Minnesota to a 4-1 victory over the Tigers in Detroit.
“When he has gotten hits, they seem to be at large moments to give us a chance to win games,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “That’s a good trend, that he’s getting more comfortable with the game on the line.”
Although in last place in the AL Central, the Twins (35-59) have strung together back-to-back victories and have three wins in their last five games after taking two of three at Detroit.
Steven Wright hopes to replicate his first outing of the year for the Red Sox against Minnesota in Thursday’s start.
Wright (11-5, 2.78 ERA) gave up an unearned run, seven hits and two walks with six strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings of a June 10 victory over the Twins.
The knuckleballer is 1-0 with a 2.03 ERA in two career starts against Minnesota and figures to have the element of surprise on his side.
Nobody on the Twins’ roster has had more than 10 at-bats against Wright. Kurt Suzuki is 4-for-6 with an RBI against him and Robbie Grossman is 2-for-4 with an RBI and three walks.
Minnesota counters with Tyler Duffey (5-6, 5.23 ERA), who is 3-0 with a 3.10 ERA in his last four starts.
The Twins have won the last five games Duffey has started.
Duffey has faced Boston only once in his career, starting the June 10 game against Wright — but unlike Wright, his results weren’t favorable.
He tied his season highs by giving up six runs and 10 hits with three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings while taking the loss.
Xander Bogaerts is 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs against Duffey. Dustin Pedroia is 2-for-3 with a double.
Boston took two of three games in Minnesota on June 10-12, scoring a season-high 15 runs in a June 11 rout.