Twins designated hitter Craig Monroe’s two homer night gives Minnesota their 19th win


Twins designated hitter Craig Monroe’s two homer night gives Minnesota their 19th win

(May 11, 2008) –The Twins should thank Mrs. Monroe for allowing her son to spend an extra five minutes in the backyard swinging the bat because Craig Monroe’s second homerun was what gave Minnesota the 9-8 victory. If it was not for his seventh inning homerun the Twins and Red Sox would still be playing after Coco Crisp drove in Mike Lowell in the top of the ninth with the Sox’s eighth run.

The Sox tried valiantly to make Mother’s Day 2008 as memorable to their mothers and all of Red Sox Nation as they did last year. With one out in the top of the ninth, Lowell lined a single into center field sending Kevin Youkilis to third. (Youkilis reached by beating out Adam Everett’s throw to first on a ground ball to shortstop.) J.D. Drew would drive in Youkilis with a double over the head of Twins center fielder Carlos Gomez to send the hottest hitter of the game to the plate in Crisp. But the boys from Boston came up one run short when Manny Ramirez, pinch-hitting for catcher Kevin Cash grounded out to shortstop.

In his shortest outing of the year, Wakefield pitched just 2.2 innings allowing seven runs on seven hits while walking and striking out two. The Twins hit Wakefield hard in the bottom of the second when Canadian-born first baseman Justin Morneau led off the inning with a base hit into left center followed by a double to left by Michael Cuddyer. With nobody out and two runs on, designated hitter Monroe got Minnesota’s offensive show on the road with a three-run homerun. But the inning was not over yet.

Wakefield forced left fielder Delmon Young to ground out to Lowell at third base but walked Friday night’s hero, Mike Lamb to set up Everett’s first homerun of the season. With one swing of the bat the Twins had a 5-0 lead that the Sox would have to dig their way out of. But they have done it before on Mother’s Day so it was not completely out of the question.

They had a great opportunity to put some runs on the board and run Blackburn from the game in the top of the third after the Twins starter hit Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia to lead of the inning. David Ortiz drove his second hit of the game into right field but Ellsbury and Pedroia could only advance one base. What a perfect opportunity bases loaded nobody out and the Greek God of Walks stepping to the plate.

After striking out in the first, Youkilis had chance to redeem himself but his perfectly hit line drive found the web of Lamb’s glove on a diving ESPN web gem. You could not ask for a better, text book hit than Youkilis’s, Lamb just made a miraculous game saving catch. Have to give him credit for that catch. But the Sox would at least get one run out of the inning with sacrifice fly into right by Lowell to plate Ellsbury.

But Minnesota would keep widening their lead in the bottom of the third, starting with another base hit by Morneau. Young would walk after Cuddyer and Monroe struck and grounded out, respectively to give Lamb a chance to step to the plate in the inning. The Minnesota third baseman lined a base hit up the middle to plate two more runs for the Twins.

Boston would not give up; they are indeed the “Never say die Red Sox.” Just when you think it is over, it is not over with this Red Sox team. In the top of the fourth, Crisp led of the inning, with a stand up triple that bounced over the head of Young, and would score on a base hit up the middle by Cash. Shortstop Alex Cora singled into center to put runners on first and second with no one out until Ellsbury lined out to left.

Pedroia made up for Ellsbury’s mistake, batting out a would-be Twin killing. Minnesota second baseman, Matt Tolbert would airmail his throw to first into the first row of seats behind the Sox dugout allowing Cash to score the fourth run of the game. But the Twins would add another run in the fourth when catcher Joe Mauer walked with two outs and scored on when Lowell could not handle Monroe’s ground ball down the third base line.

After Ellsbury went 0-for-4 on the night, Crisp has proved to manager Terry Francona and Red Sox Nation that he, and only he, should be starter in centerfield. After a triple in the fourth inning, Crisp capped off his night with a two-run homerun in the top of the seventh, driving in J.D. Drew. The Sox right fielder kept the inning alive when he lined a two-out single into right field to bring Crisp to the plate.

But, yet again, the pesky Twins would not go away. In the bottom of the inning Monroe hit his second homerun of the game and drove in his fourth RBI of the game. Care to guess who the number one star of the game is, now?

The Sox look to split the series in Minnesota tomorrow when they send Clay Buchholz to the mound against Twins right hander Livan Hernandez. After the game, the team will hope on the silver bird and fly back to the east coast where the Orioles will host a two game set in the land of oh so many crab-cakes.

Buchholz has pitched remarkable on the season, owning a 2-2 record with 39 strike outs. The future is bright for the Red Sox in the starting pitching department – when they are at home. When the team is on the road it has been a different story for the young pitching phenom. Away from the Old Ballpark, Buchholz is 0-2 with a 7.40 ERA in four games with six walks and 24 strike outs and an opponent’s batting average of .300. Compare those numbers with his at Fenway, where he is 2-0 with an ERA barely above 1.00 while holding opposing hitters to just .226. The Sox tall, lanky right hander is coming off a 10-9 loss to the Detroit Tigers where he pitched just four innings allowing five runs on 10 hits while walking one and striking out six, on 82 pitches. Buchholz will look to improve his road numbers with his third win of the season against the Twins.

The Cuban defector, Hernandez will be in search of his sixth win of the season when he faces the Red Sox for the third time his career. Against the Sox, Hernandez is 0-2 with a 12.38 ERA with five strike outs and an opponent’s batting average over .400. But this season, the Twins’ right hander is 5-1 on the season with a 3.83 ERA and 20 strikeouts. He is coming off a 13-1 win against the Chicago White Sox last Wednesday where he pitched a complete game allowing one run on nine hits while walking one and striking out three. On average, Hernandez has thrown 95 pitches per game and in four of his last five starts he has thrown above 100 pitches.

WIN: Nick Blackburn (3-2)

LOSS: Tim Wakefield (3-2)

SAVE: Joe Nathan (12)


Game Notes:

Alex Cora has been activated for tonight’s game with the Twins and in the starting line up. Starting shortstop, Julio Lugo’s CT scans were clean and the Sox shortstop’s eyes appeared clearer when he came into the Metrodome visitors’ clubhouse. Infielder Jed Lowrie has been optioned to Pawtucket. Sean Casey has joined the team in Minnesota but has not been activated from the disabled list yet.

Manny Ramirez is not in the starting line up tonight due to a sore hamstring. He apparently tweaked the muscle after running hard down the line to stay out of the double play. Personally I would rather have Ramirez loaf it down the line than to pull a hamstring trying to beat out a throw from shortstop. He is not worth anything if he is sitting on the DL with a strained hamstring.


Mike Lamb diving line drive catch off the bat of Kevin Youkilis in the top of the third inning, keeping the score, then, at 5-1.

Jacoby Ellsbury – diving line drive off the bat of Joe Mauer in left.

The 3 Stars of the Game:

  1. Craig Monroe, MINNESOTA ---- 2-4 2 Homeruns, 4 RBIs
  1. Justin Morneau, MINNESOTA --- 3-3 2 Runs Scored
  1. Coco Crisp, BOSTON ---- 2-5 Triple, Homerun, 3 RBIs, Run-scored

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