Cruz, Sanó homer for Twins in 6-5 win at Boston
BOSTON (AP) — The Minnesota Twins are slugging their way toward an AL Central title, adding two more homers and another big victory Tuesday night.
Nelson Cruz and Miguel Sanó connected in the fifth inning to pad Minnesota’s record home run total and the Twins beat the Boston Red Sox 6-5 Tuesday night.
Jake Cave added a two-run triple for the Twins, who won for the ninth time in 10 games and hold a 6 1/2 game lead in the AL Central with 24 games remaining. Minnesota extended its major league record to 271 homers with nearly four weeks left in the regular season.
“We’re a really good group,” said Cruz, who hit his 35th homer of the season. “The pitching is there. The offense is definitely there. We score a lot of runs. It seems like every game we score enough to win games.”
Cruz’s assessment could have described the 2018 World Series champion Red Sox, whose postseason hopes are dwindling. This year it’s the Twins who are riding a combination of power, clutch hitting and solid pitching toward the postseason.
“It was a great effort all the way around. There was a lot of good to point to,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi homered for the Red Sox, who struggled against a parade of relievers and couldn’t rally all the way back after falling behind 6-0.
Six Twins pitchers combined on a six-hitter, with only four hits allowed before Benintendi’s two-out homer in the eighth off Taylor Rogers.
Rogers returned for the ninth and got his 23rd save, striking out Devers for the final out with the tying run at second.
Lewis Thorpe (2-1) got the win despite allowing three runs and two hits in 3 1/3 innings following opener Randy Dobnak.
“They pitched well and they put us in position to win. We talked about this being a different kind of environment and a challenging place to come in. It’s just a different feel,” Baldelli said. “They came in and executed, did a great job, and you know both of them, you can’t compliment them enough.”
Boston’s Rick Porcello (12-11) struggled from the start, allowing one run in the first and two more in the third on Cave’s triple to center.
“Six runs in four innings is not going to get it done,” said Porcello, who was pulled after facing three batters in the fifth without recording an out. “We need to win every game right now and that’s the part that hurts.”
Cruz belted homer No. 270 for the Twins with a leadoff shot to center in the fifth, pushing Minnesota’s lead to 4-0. Cruz has hit 35 homers in six straight seasons and has 395 in his career.
“He’s always got that power,” Porcello said. “You can throw a bunch of pitches to him and think he’s off-balance, and he’s either sitting on something or you make a mistake and he’s ready for it. And when he connects it’s not a single.”
Porcello’s night ended two batters later when Sanó went deep with a man on to put the Twins up 6-0. Sanó’s shot was his 27th.
Porcello allowed six runs and eight hits, walked two and hit a batter. He also struck out five over four-plus innings.
The Red Sox struck out 12 times and went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
Twins: C Mitch Garver was out of the lineup a day after a pitch deflected off his glove and struck him in the jaw, causing him to leave a win at Detroit in the fourth inning. ... Minnesota bolstered its bullpen by recalling RHPs Ryne Harper, Trevor Hildenberger and Fernando Romero from Triple-A Rochester.
Twins: RHP José Berríos (11-7, 3.57 ERA) faces the Red Sox for the first time since striking out 10 and holding Boston to five hits over eight innings in a 2-0 loss on June 17.
Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodríguez (16-5, 3.97) has won his last three starts and leads Boston in victories.