Trevor Plouffe has been the hottest hitter for a productive Twins offense. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Red Sox-Twins series preview

June 01, 2015 - 7:31 am
Categories: 

With June upon them, the Red Sox will be more than happy to close the book on the month of May, as they went a disastrous 10-19. To open June, the Red Sox will face the red-hot Twins in a four-game series at Fenway Park. The Red Sox are coming off of a horrendous road trip, going 1-6 in Minnesota and Texas. The Rangers took three out of four in the Sox' most recent series, after the Twins made quick work of them with a three-game sweep. Following this stretch, the Red Sox are 22-29 and reside in last place in the AL East. As has been the case all season, the offense, more than the rotation, has disappointed for the Red Sox of late. They have failed to score more than three runs in four of their last seven games. The Twins shut down the Red Sox bats last week, as Ricky Nolasco and Mike Pelfrey combined to allow just three earned runs over their two starts. If not for Dustin Pedroia and his pair of two-run home runs last Wednesday, Phil Hughes would have joined the list of Twins pitchers to stymie the Red Sox. With the team reeling, manager John Farrell met with five of the team's veterans before Sunday's series finale vs. the Rangers. Following an 8-0 shutout at the hands of the Rangers the night before, Farrell reinforced his team's goals and its dependency upon its leaders. "There was a group of guys that I had in to talk about a number of things," Farrell said. "I guess the short version of it would be for us to play with some aggressiveness and some smarts inside the game situation. Without getting too detailed. But it was an opportunity to meet with our veteran group, to reemphasize the importance of the role that they provide to the younger players and how they go about and execute inside the game." The polar opposite of the Red Sox, the Twins have snagged seven of their last eight and 20 of 27 during the month of May. The Twins took two out of three from the Blue Jays to close out the month following their sweep of the Red Sox. With a 30-19 record, they own the best winning percentage in the AL as they sit in first place in the AL Central, a half-game up on the Royals. "All those things you look at that really good teams do, we've been able to do this month," Phil Hughes said after the Twins' latest win over the Blue Jays on Sunday. "It's a small sample, and we have to continue this trend, but it's a positive sign for us." Though the Twins have hit just 39 home runs this season, fifth worst in the majors, they still have managed to manufacture the fourth-most runs per game (4.59). First-year manager Paul Molitor has shown an uncanny ability to mold the Twins lineup into a run-scoring machine. He has mixed the talents of seasoned veterans like Torii Hunter and Joe Mauer with young guns such as Kennys Vargas and Danny Santana to produce the best offense the team has seen in years. Since their last series with the Red Sox, the Twins have lowered their team ERA from 4.05 to 3.92. Their rotation seems to get better and better with each passing game, and none of their starters enter Monday's contest with a losing record. Kyle Gibson has been a revelation in his age-27 season, posting a 2.61 ERA through 10 starts, and closer Glen Perkins has proven impenetrable, as he sports a 1.88 ERA in 25 appearances. Here are the pitching matchups for the series (updated after Monday's rainout): Tuesday: Clay Buchholz (2-6, 4.33 ERA) vs. Mike Pelfrey (4-1, 2.77 ERA) Wednesday Game 1: Eduardo Rodriguez (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Phil Hughes (4-4, 4.59 ERA) Wednesday Game 2: Rick Porcello (4-4, 5.37 ERA) vs. Trevor May (3-3, 5.07 ERA) Thursday: Steven Wright (2-2, 3.90 ERA) vs. Kyle Gibson (4-3, 2.61 ERA) WHO'S HOT: RED SOX -- Hanley Ramirez has shown positive signs that he is recovering from his shoulder injury. Against the Rangers, Ramirez went 6-for-17 with two dingers and four RBIs. Ramirez also snagged his second stolen base of the season Sunday. -- Eduardo Rodriguez enters the series with confidence after hurling 7 2/3 of scoreless ball en route to a win in his major league debut. The lefty was stellar as he allowed just three hits and struck out seven, earning a spot in the rotation this week. -- Though Mookie Betts certainly has not had a hype-fulfilling season thus far, there have been signs of late that he may be turning his fortunes around. The outfielder is hitting .333 in his last seven games, and he has recorded three stolen bases, a double and a triple over this stretch. WHO'S HOT: TWINS -- Trevor Plouffe has emerged as the primary source of power in the Twins lineup this season. He has homered in each of his last two series and he is slashing .360/.360/.680 over those last six games. -- Just a few weeks removed from playing in Triple-A, Aaron Hicks is showing he belongs in the show. Over his last six games he has slashed .353/.421/.529. Most impressively, in 19 plate appearances he has struck out zero times. -- Nobody has had a better month of May on the mound than Kyle Gibson. The young right-hander had a 1.36 ERA in six May starts, good for a 3-1 record. WHO'S NOT: RED SOX -- Rick Porcello has lost his mojo of late. Over his last two starts, Porcello has allowed 13 earned runs, which has produced a 10.32 ERA. Over this span, opponents are slashing .311/.392/.556 and swatting line drives at a 21 percent clip. -- Pablo Sandoval struggled throughout the month of May. In 90 May at-bats, Kung Fu Panda whiffed 14 times and logged just four extra-base hits. -- Rusney Castillo has faltered under astronomical expectations following his call-up on May 22. The Cuban import is hitting just .233 with five strikeouts and seven total bases through 31 plate appearances. WHO'S NOT: TWINS -- Danny Santana had a series he would like to forget against the Blue Jays. He went 0-for-8 with two strikeouts as the Twins shortstop. Over his last seven games, he is just 2-for-14. -- Following a great end to April, Trevor May has struggled in his last four starts. Over this stretch he has posted a 6.08 ERA and has allowed opponents to slash .309/.340/.536. He has been pounded with a 22 percent line drive rate during these four games. -- Eduardo Escobar has struggled over his last four games. He has more strikeouts (2) than hits (1) and was caught stealing in his only attempt against the Red Sox.

Comments ()