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May 4, 2024 3:17 am

Red Sox turn to bullpen game to face rolling Twins

Ryan Jeffers

The Minnesota Twins are riding an 11-game winning streak, the longest in the big leagues this season.

Going into Saturday afternoon’s rematch with the Boston Red Sox in Minneapolis, Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers called the streak “amazing.”

“Being able to put on a show for these fans every single night is cool,” Jeffers told the team’s TV broadcast team after Minnesota’s 5-2 win in the series opener on Friday night. “This season is a long, grueling season, so to be able to rattle off 11 straight is pretty awesome.”

Jeffers and Eduoard Julien drove in two runs apiece on Friday, and five Twins pitchers held Boston to four hits.

It was the second straight loss for Boston, which had won its previous four.

“It’s one of those that you’ve just got to keep battling and keep working, and hopefully (Saturday) we have a better one,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.

The Red Sox will have to find a way to grind out a win during a bullpen game.

Left-hander Brennan Bernardino (0-1, 0.73 ERA) is expected to make his second start, but he will be limited in terms of workload. In 11 appearances this season, he has not pitched more than two innings in a game.

Several other Red Sox relievers could chip in an inning or two. It typically would be right-hander Brayan Bello’s turn in the starting rotation, but he is on the injured list with tightness in his back.

Knowing the bullpen game was upcoming, Cora said he was grateful to need only two pitchers on Friday. Right-hander Tanner Houck started and went six innings, and reliever Naoyuki Uwasawa covered the next two innings.

“He was excellent,” Cora said of Houck. “We needed him to go deep into the game, coming from (Thursday’s) game and (Saturday) knowing where we’re at with a bullpen game.

“That’s what the good ones do. When you need innings, he goes out there, and it’s not like he just gave us innings. He gave us a chance to win.”

Twins right-hander Pablo Lopez (2-2, 4.83 ERA) is set to make his seventh start of the season. Lopez is looking for back-to-back wins after defeating the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.

In one career start against the Red Sox, Lopez is 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA. He gave up five runs (four earned) on six hits in 5 2/3 innings last June, and he walked three and struck out nine.

Jeffers said one key to the Twins’ winning streak has been late-inning offense. Each game has provided an opportunity for someone else in the lineup to come through, he said.

On Friday, the Twins scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh to build on their 1-0 lead.

“We’ve been doing a really good job staying in there,” Jeffers said. “Whether we’re down or if it’s an even game going late, we feel like (our offense) can come from anybody. Feeding off the energy in this stadium (on Friday night) really pushed us through.”

–Field Level Media

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