Stephen Drew had a bad start to the season, but he’s making up for it in a big way.
On a night when the Clay Buchholz doctored-the-baseball story fizzled, Joel Hanrahan was lost in the ninth inning to right forearm tightness, and David Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 26 games, Drew had four hits, including a tying seventh-inning homer and an RBI double in the bottom of the 11th that gave the Red Sox a 6-5 comeback victory over the Twins Monday.
“I knew I hit it good, but you never know here,” Drew said. “Sometimes I think I hit the ball good to right and it gets held up.
“Just a good night. Everybody battled. [Jarrod Saltalamacchia] ran out his hit and [Will] Middlebrooks gets a big hit. Nobody gives up here. We’re winning games and having fun.”
With two outs in the 11th against Twins reliever Jared Burton, Saltalamacchia kept running hard and beat out an infield hit when the first baseman had to come off the bag for the throw. Middlebrooks then stroked a single, setting the stage for Drew.
On his homer that tied the game at 4, Drew said “I got into a good count. Got a pitch I wanted and put good a swing on it.”
Drew also got thrown out at the plate trying to score in the fifth. He appeared to beat the tag.
“For me, initially, I know you can’t argue and do that stuff. I know it was bang-bang,” he said. “I knew I had my hand in there and then I felt the tag. It’s one of those things where he actually came back to tag me again. So anyhow, it is what it is. Tonight just worked out for us.”
Drew started the game hitting .182, but ended it hitting .225.
He was one of a few top performers on a night that was bittersweet with the loss of Hanrahan, who will be re-evaluated Tuesday, just hours after the Red Sox placed Andrew Bailey on the 15-day disabled list with a bicepts tendinitis.
One of them was Clay Mortensen, who pitched the final 2⅓ innings and gave up just one hit, earning the win a day after he got the loss in Texas.
“In my opinion, what Morty did, that’s why we won the game,” Saltalamacchia said.
“Just a situation that you like, a tie ballgame in the ninth inning, more than likely, I figured I’m going to go until they tell me otherwise. You just got to keep that mind-set . . . still got to go, still got to go. So you just got to keep finding energy somewhere and just compete,” Mortensen said.
After being swept in Texas, the win was “huge for our team, coming off a tough series from Texas and come home and win a late one like this, it’s huge. So we’re all feeling pretty good in here now. So just try and swing that momentum back and get back on a roll,” Mortensen said.
Mortensen had pitched three times in four days.
“You find it somewhere, man,” he said of the energy he needed. “I felt great, actually, surprisingly. You get in the moment and you just find it somewhere, just start mentally talking yourself up and try and fit it somewhere. You’ve got to.”
Shane Victorino homered to put the Sox first run on the board after the Twins ran to a 3-0 lead against Buchholz. Drew’s homer made it 4-4 in the seventh and Dustin Pedroia, who hadn’t homered in 184 at-bats, stroked his first, in the eighth, to give Boston the 5-4 lead.
All Hanrahan had to do was get the save, but Brian Dozier homered to tie it.
On his first pitch to the next batter, Justin Morneau, Hanrahan felt something in his forearm and he had to come out of the game. That’s when Mortensen came on and got all the warm-up tosses he needed to proceed.
Meanwhile, Buchholz might not admit he was nervous to start the game, with baseball watching his every move on the mound following allegations that he doctored the baseball. He shrugged that off after the game.
But whether it was nerves or just his first struggles of the season, the two runs Minnesota scored in the first inning were a hole Buchholz was not able to climb out of. He left the game after six innings trailing, 4-3, with his pitch count up (116 pitches). It was his quickest outing of the season.
Except for a nine at-bat stretch early in the game, and a 1-2-3 sixth, Buchholz’s outing was not consistent with his six previous dominating starts, in which he held opponents to a.178 average with a 1.01 ERA and 0.96 WHIP.
Two color analysts on the Blue Jays broadcasts, former major league pitchers Jack Morris and Dirk Hayhurst, independently accused Buchholz of loading up the baseball during a 10-1 Red Sox’ win May 2, in which he allowed two hits in seven shutout innings.
Monday’s start against the Twins was his first since the accusations.
A Major League Baseball official indicated that Buchholz went through his normal routine and none of them constituted anything remotely close to doctoring the baseball.
The Twins weren’t about to complain since they had good at-bats against Buchholz, who allowed seven hits, four runs, two walks to go with nine strikeouts. His ERA climbed from 1.01 to 1.60, but he remains 6-0 on the season.Nick Cafardo can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.