Minnesota Twins second baseman Nick Gordon was removed for a pinch hitter for with the bases loaded on Monday even though he was 2-for-2 in the game.
A night later, he faced another bases-loaded situation, and his grand slam highlighted the biggest performance of his career.
Gordon seeks a strong follow-up showing and the Twins will chase a sixth straight win on Wednesday when they face the scuffling Boston Red Sox in Minneapolis.
The Twins, who endured a six-game skid last week, have produced a strong response against a pair of struggling opponents. Minnesota is 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Cleveland Guardians in the American League Central thanks to outscoring the San Francisco Giants and the Red Sox 34-12 while batting .276 (45-for-163), well above their .249 season mark.
While Minnesota owns two close victories during the streak, it also has three lopsided wins. After opening the Boston series with a 4-2 victory, the Twins quickly responded to blowing by a three-run lead on Tuesday when Gordon hit his first career grand slam in the fifth inning.
Gordon drove in a career-high six runs in Minnesota’s 10-5 win. He went 0-for-8 in the first two games of the win streak but is 5-for-9 in the past three games and is batting .312 (24-for-77) in 25 games this month.
“How about Nick Gordon?” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “How about what Nick Gordon’s doing right now? Several good swings from him and he whacked the ball pretty good and that was obviously one of the biggest moments in this game by far.
“He’s been doing that a lot for us. This one is going to get some notoriety, as it should, but he’s been stepping up big for us constantly.”
Boston is 3-9 since leveling its record at 59-59 on Aug. 17. The Red Sox have been getting outscored 26-11 in their current three-game losing streak and were unable to hold a 4-3 advantage on Tuesday.
The Red Sox also were done in by more mistakes as right fielder Alex Verdugo allowed a fly ball by Carlos Correa to carom off his glove for an error and Ryan Brasier hit Jose Miranda with a pitch just before serving up Gordon’s slam.
“The brand of baseball that we have to play is better than this, and we know we’re capable of doing it and we haven’t done it,” Boston manager Alex Cora said.
Minnesota’s pitching staff sports a 2.35 ERA during the winning streak, and Joe Ryan (10-6, 3.65 ERA) will attempt to continue the run. Ryan began the winning stretch on Friday when he allowed two hits in six innings during a 9-0 victory over San Francisco.
Ryan will oppose the Red Sox for the second time in his career. He earned a win on April 15 in Boston when he allowed one run on five hits in six innings as the Twins prevailed 8-4.
Michael Wacha, who is 6-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his past eight starts, will take the ball for Boston. Wacha (9-1, 2.53 ERA) began this month with a pair of scoreless outings before allowing four runs in six innings during a 9-8 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.
Wacha is 2-1 with a 4.43 ERA in four career starts against the Twins. He got a no-decision against Minnesota when he allowed one hit in five scoreless innings during an 8-1 win in Boston on April 17.
–Field Level Media