Minnesota Twins

Don't look now, but Red Sox are finally making a case to join the class of the American League

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Don't look now, but Red Sox are finally making a case to join the class of the American League

Now we're talking.

Sweeping the Royals before losing five of six to the Rays and Texas told us nothing. Sweeping the Orioles after salvaging a split with the Rangers suggested cautious optimism.

But after taking two of three from the American League-leading Twins to run their overall streak to seven wins in eight games, it's fair to say that the Red Sox are ba--.

They're ba--. They're BA--. They're …

No need to get ahead of ourselves declaring them back. Let's just accept that they're playing much better baseball at a point in the season where they can make up legitimate ground in the AL East before entering the All-Star break feeling a lot better about their chances of contending than they did even two weeks ago.

"It's been a topic of everybody," manager Alex Cora told reporters in Minnesota following a 9-4 victory over the Twins. "It's a team, they've got forty-whatever wins, and the best record in the American League [48-25]. We came here and yesterday we played a great game, we bounced back today, we won the first one.

"They have a good team, but we do, too. We're playing a lot better lately. Now we go home. We know we've got to play better at home. That's the next step, the next challenge. We've got six games [homestand], so go over there and start dominating at Fenway."

The Red Sox can talk about dominating with a straight face because they finally claimed a series against a good team after a series of misfires. The Twins began the night with a 10-game lead over the Indians in the AL Central, but they ran into a Red Sox squad determined to remind everyone it's actually better.

After taking the opener Monday with a crisp 2-0 victory behind Rick Porcello and just enough offense, the Red Sox dropped the follow-up Tuesday in 17 innings. Cora insisted that the team would bounce back in much the same way it did after losing Game 3 of the World Series in 18 innings, earning some criticism for believing his own propaganda.

But just as the Red Sox returned to Dodger Stadium the next night and claimed Game 4 before closing out the series on enemy soil, on Wednesday they hammered Minnesota pitching for nine runs, pulling away after blowing a 3-2 lead.

"I don't know. We had a tough time the first night because [Jose] Berrios, he's a good pitcher, but we won the game," infielder Brock Holt told reporters. "Last night, you start playing that many innings, guys maybe get a little antsy to try to do a little bit too much. And then tonight we tried to focus.  

"I feel like our situational hitting was pretty solid tonight. When we got a guy on third, we got him in, for the most part. It's just better approaches tonight, I think guys kind of didn't try to do too much, and we just tried to get those extra runs in when we had a chance."

After going 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday, the Red Sox bounced back in a big way, going 7-for-14 and driving Twins starter Kyle Gibson from the game in the fifth after working him for seven hits and five walks.

"We knew last night was rough for us," Holt told reporters. "We had opportunities to score last night in multiple innings and we didn't, to win games you've got to score when you have chances and tonight we were able to do that. So that's something that we probably haven't done as good as we should this year, so it's just something we need to focus on putting together better at-bats with runners in scoring position."

With the Yankees hammering the Rays to complete a sweep, the Red Sox actually ended up losing a game in the standings to New York this week and trail in the division by 6.5 games, but they pulled within three games of Tampa Bay for second place.

They now host the lowly Blue Jays and middling White Sox for six games before jetting to England for a two-game set vs. the Yankees.

It may be too soon to say they're officially back, but at least they're finally rolling.

"Yeah, it was good, especially after last night's game, we could have come in and kind of been dragging today, but to come out tonight and take two of three from a good team over there, a good road trip for us," Holt said. "We're excited about the off day tomorrow, get some guys some breaks and get back out there."

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Highlights of Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Twins

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Highlights of Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Twins

FINAL SCORE: Red Sox 9, Twins 4

IN BRIEF: The Red Sox bounced back from a 17-inning loss with 12 hits and a seven-inning, nine-strikeout effort from Eduardo Rodriguez to beat the Twins 9-4 in Minnesota and take two of three from the AL Central leaders. BOX SCORE

RED SOX RECORD: 41-35

HIGHLIGHTS:

1st inning:
Cron singles to right, Cruz doubles to right, Cron thrown out at home by center fielder Bradley, Cruz moves to third. Rosario singles to center, scoring Cruz (1-0, MIN).

BRADLEY'S THROW HOME:

ROSARIO'S SINGLE:

2nd inning:
Devers singles to center, Bogaerts walks, Holt singled to center, scoring Devers (tied, 1-1)

Chavis singles to center, scoring Bogaerts (2-1, BOS)

Bradley Jr. walks, moving Chavis to second, Holt to third. Betts hit an infield single to third, scoring Holt (3-1, BOS).

3rd inning:
Cruz walks, Sanó walks, Arraez singles to left, scoring Cruz (3-2, BOS).

4th inning:
Astudillo homers to center off Rodriguez on a 0-0 pitch (tied, 3-3)

Kepler homers to right off Rodriguez on a 0-2 pitch (4-3, MIN).

5th inning: 
Martinez walks, moves to second when Devers reaches on an infield single to third. Bogaerts doubles to left, scoring Martinez (tied, 4-4).

(Núñez pinch runs for Devers). Holt hits a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Nunez (5-4, BOS)

Chavis singles to right, scoring Bogaerts (6-4, BOS).

8th inning:
Betts triples to right, Benintendi doubles to left, scoring Betts (7-4, BOS).

Martinez singles to right, scoring Benintendi (8-4, BOS).

Núñez doubles to center, moving Martinez to third, Bogaerts walks, Holt walks, scoring Martinez (9-4 BOS).


UP NEXT:

Vs. Blue Jays, Friday, 7:10 p.m., NESN
Vs. Blue Jays, Saturday, 4:05 p.m., NESN
Vs. Blue Jays, Sunday, 1:05 p.m., NESN

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Jackie Bradley Jr. channels 'inner Bo Jackson' to make dazzling catch

Jackie Bradley Jr. channels 'inner Bo Jackson' to make dazzling catch

Jackie Bradley Jr. probably won't be hitting 475-foot-home runs anytime soon, and he certainly won't be pursuing a second career as an NFL running back.

But the Boston Red Sox outfielder does have a little Bo Jackson in him.

Here's Bradley going airborne in the seventh inning of Tuesday's game against the Minnesota Twins to make an insane catch that's even more difficult than it looks:

The Red Sox went on to lose 3-2 in a 17-inning marathon, but after the game, Bradley admitted to attempting a Bo Jackson impression as he slammed into the centerfield wall.

Jackson, one of the best athletes of all time and a dual-sport star for the Kansas City Royals and Oakland Raiders, famously defied gravity by literally running up the outfield wall after a highlight-reel catch:

Bradley obeyed most of the laws of physics here, but his catch arguably was impressive in that he snagged the ball in midair while crashing into the wall.

The 29-year-old may have his struggles at the plate -- he's hitting .213 through 66 games this season -- but Tuesday's catch was another reminder that he's one of the best defensive outfielders (and pure athletes) in baseball.

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