The Minnesota Twins hope their home field advantage starts to make more of an impact against the Boston Red Sox on Saturday when they host them in the second matchup of a three-game series at Target Field.
Boston has won six of seven, including four in a row in Minnesota. The Red Sox have not won five in a row as a visitor against the Twins since the 2000-01 campaign when Minnesota played its home games at the Metrodome.
The winning streak was nearly stopped on Friday, but Jonny Gomes drove in the deciding run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th inning to help Boston collect a 3-2 decision. David Ortiz went 3-for-4 with an RBI single for the Red Sox, who trailed 2-1 after six innings before drawing even on Jacoby Ellsbury's run-scoring hit in the seventh. Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia each collected two hits in the triumph, which gave the Red Sox their first overall three-game winning streak of May.
Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to nine games on Friday and has gone 17-of-37 at the plate during that span. Clay Buchholz gave up just two runs on four hits while striking out nine in seven innings of action. Alex Wilson picked up his first major league victory although he retired just one batter on two pitches.
"It's always nice to get the first of anything in your career or your life experience," Wilson said. "To get the first win out of the way and to have it on two pitches is kind of funny. It's something that's welcome."
The Red Sox will hand the ball on Saturday to Ryan Dempster hoping the experienced right- hander can rebound from his worst start of the season. Dempster allowed seven hits, six runs and three home runs to the Blue Jays in the team's 12-4 loss to Toronto on Sunday.
"I've been feeling really good this year," Dempster said after the loss. "Even today, my arm feels good, my body feels good. I just didn't execute pitches. It's nice as you get older to continue to feel good. That's an important thing, but at the same time, you can feel as good as you want or as bad as you want, you've got to execute pitches. Hopefully, I can continue to do that on a consistent basis."
Dempster should have some confidence coming into Saturday considering his past success against Twins catcher Joe Mauer, who is 1-for-10 with six strikeouts against him. The All-Star catcher did not play in the series opener due to a stiff back. If he is able to return on Saturday, Mauer, who is hitting a team- best .349, will put his 14-game hitting streak on the line.
Justin Morneau had an 11-game hit streak snapped after finishing 0-for-4. With Maurer out and Morneau struggling, Pedro Florimon provided a spark to the Twins offense with a two-run shot in the third inning off of Buchholz.
The Twins will need to provide better run support for Scott Diamond, who allowed a season-high six runs on nine hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings versus the Orioles on Sunday. The left-hander had trouble keeping his pitches low in the zone and fell to 3-3 on the year.
"That was our game plan going in," Diamond said. "I talked to (Coach Rick Anderson) and Ryan Doumit before the game and they told me, 'If you keep the ball down, you'll be fine against these guys.' In the pen, I was locating better and everything felt good. But once I got onto the mound, I couldn't get as good a grip as I wanted and I ended up pushing everything."
These teams faced off earlier this month in Boston, where the Twins took three out of four.