First Impressions from the Boston Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins:
1) You had to like the Red Sox chances in the ninth. Until you didn't.
Trailing by a run, the Sox loaded the bases in the ninth against closer Brandon Kintzler.
Xander Bogaerts had a magnificent at-bat , working an 11-pitch walk to bring David Ortiz to the plate with no out and the bases loaded.
Piece of cake, right?
David Ortiz did the one thing you didn't want to see if you're a Sox fan - hit into a 4-2-3 double-play.
Hanley Ramirez then lined a hard liner to right, but right into the glove of Max Kepler for the final out.
2) It's 'hat-tipping'' time.
Sometimes, you hear players in a losing effort that a loss was somewhat unavoidable, that the other team -- or a specific player -- was simply batter that night.
That was the case with Twins starter Kyle Gibson Friday night.
The same offense that scored 24 runs the previous two games and accounted for 10 homers in the last three games was somehow silenced by Gibson over eight innings.
It began promisingly enough when Mookie Betts drilled the second pitch from Gibson into the Monster Seats, for his second leadoff homer in the last two games.
After that? Virtually nothing. Xander Bogaerts beat out a grounder in the shortstop hole, and the Sox didn't manage another hit the rest of the way. In fact, they had just two more baserunners -- a leadoff walk to Brock Holt to start the sixth and a gift error by Miguel Sano in the eighth, allowing Sandy Leon to reach -- over the next seven innings.
3) The news on Mookie Betts may be a little scary.
After homering in the first, Betts grounded out in the bottom of the third.
Then, two innings later, it was announced that Michael Martinez was taking over for Betts in right, and soon after, that Betts had left the game because of right knee soreness.
There didn't seem to any particular event that led to this. Perhaps Betts has been quietly dealing with this soreness for a while.
We do know that Betts has been playing a lot. He's started in every game this season to date but one and has missed just 14 innings all season.
For an athletic player -- and superb baserunner and base-stealer -- a sore knee can be problematic. And, of course, the Sox would very much miss his presence at the top of the lineup were he to miss any period of time.
4) Eduardo Rodriguez was encouraging again.
Rodriguez lasted only 5 1/3 innings -- efficiency remains an issue with the lefty -- but gave up just two runs on six hits.
His fastball again had good power -- he fanned eight -- and his command was impressive, with just one walk allowed.
Rodriguez's return to form over the last two starts is a significant development heading into the final third of the season.
He gives the Red Sox another dependable starter in the rotation.
The diminished velocity, inconsistent release point and the pitch-tipping all, for the time being, seem like things of the past.
Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam