The Red Sox were excited to send one of their brightest pitching prospects to the mound against the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night.
Allen Webster, a 23-year-old righthander, threw six strong innings against the Kansas City Royals in a spot start in April. Now he had a chance to perhaps earn a permanent spot in the rotation at the expense of struggling Felix Doubront.
Instead the Red Sox were left wondering who auditions next. Webster didn’t survive the second inning and Doubront was hit hard in very long relief as the Twins embarrassed the Sox, 15-8, before 29,969 at Fenway Park.
The 21-13 Sox have lost five of their last six games and have dropped into a tie for first place for the Orioles in the American League East. The starting pitching that carried the team for weeks is now showing a canyon-sized crack.
Webster (0-1) allowed eight runs on six hits — five for extra bases — and three walks. Doubront followed him to the mound and was rocked over 5⅓ innings. He gave up six runs on 11 hits and two walks.
Doubront’s 105 pitches were the most in relief for a Red Sox pitcher since Vaughn Eshelman threw 106 over 3⅔ innings against the Twins on July 25, 1996. It was only the third time since at least 1916 that a Red Sox reliever threw 100 pitches.
Trevor Plouffe had three hits and drove in three runs for the Twins. By the second inning, every Minnesota starter had scored at least one run. The Twins finished with 19 hits.
David Ortiz was 0 for 5, snapping his hit streak at 27 games. His last game without a hit came on July 1, 2012. Ortiz has a chance to extend his streak in the ninth inning and struck out.
Webster struck out Jamey Carroll on four impressive pitches to start the game. But when he walked the next two hitters, pitching coach Juan Nieves came out to the mound.
The next pitch, a high fastball, was lined to right fight for a ground-rule double by Joe Mauer. Plouffe followed with a sacrifice fly to deep center field and Ryan Doumit with a home run into the Red Sox bullpen.
Oswaldo Arcia then hit a low liner back up the middle that struck Webster. As manager John Farrell came out to the mound, Doubront ran out to the bullpen much earlier than he ever could have expected.
Webster finished off the inning but not before throwing 31 pitches and falling behind, 4-0.
Twins starter Pedro Hernandez was back at Fenway Park for the first time since his major league debut last July 18 when he was with the White Sox. He allowed eight runs on 12 hits over four innings that day.
This start was more of the same for the lefthander.
Shane Victorino bunted for a hit in the bottom of the first before Dustin Pedroia singled and Mike Napoli walked to load the bases. Jonny Gomes followed with a towering home run into the Monster Seats.
It the fourth grand slam of his career, the second against the Twins in less than a year. He had one last July 13.
The Sox then took a 5-4 lead when Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled and scored on a single by Stephen Drew.
Webster did not take advantage of his second chance. Pedro Florimon started the second inning with a home run to right field, the second of his career in 202 at-bats.
Carroll walked and went to third on Mauer’s double. Morneau’s sacrifice fly to deep center gave the Twins a 6-5 lead.
When Plouffe doubled in another run, Webster was finally taken from the game after 54 pitches.
Doubront came in for his first relief appearance since Sept. 25, 2011. He put four consecutive batters on base as the Twins kept scoring.
Doumit walked before Arcia and Hicks singled to score two runs. Florimon then doubled off the wall to drive in two more and the Twins led, 11-5.
Doubront allowed a run on two hits and a walk in the fourth inning and two more in the fifth as the Twins collected four more hits. Plouffe had an RBI single and Arcia a run-scoring double.
Victorino homered in the second inning. Hernandez was done after two innings and 51 pitches. He allowed six runs on seven hits.
Ryan Pressly, who the Twins selected from the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Draft, got his first major league victory in relief. He went four innings and allowed two hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
Pedroia singled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Gomes in the seventh inning. The five RBIs for Gomes were one off his career high.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.