As we expected the Red Sox enjoyed their trip to Baltimore. The results in Baltimore ensured that whatever happens in this series, they will still be above .500 when they return home. Now they head into Minnesota to face the team with the second best record in the American League.
I raved about the home ERAs of some of the Red Sox pitchers in a previous preview. Well, the counter to that is some pretty ugly road ERAs, especially for Porcello and Rodriguez. Porcello is the worst of the group, with a 6.37 road ERA, but Rodriguez is close behind with 5.23 road ERA. That is just a small problem when you are heading to face the highest scoring team in the major leagues.
Things have come together for Berrios and Gibson this season. Both have ERA’s below four, and below their career averages. Their numbers have largely been driven by their performances in Minnesota. Berrios has a 2.53 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP at home. As for Gibson, he is even better at home, with 2.70 ERA and an impressive 0.79 WHIP.
The 2019 season has not been as rosy for Pineda, who had an up and down start but has had a relatively consistent spell recently. His season-long ERA is 5.04, and at home, it is up to 5.20. However, the consistency he has shown recently has been impressive. Six of his last seven starts have seen him allow three earned runs. The one exception was last time out against Seattle, when he allowed just one earned run. He will be hoping to take that good run into this start against Boston.
The Twins have some things to shout about offensively this season. They lead the majors in runs, home runs, ISO, batting average and slugging. That is a pretty amazing combination and helps to explain just why they are in control of the AL Central. However, their home form is not that great in comparison. They rank seventh in home runs, 11th in runs and 13th in batting average. If there is a place to face them, then actually, in Minnesota is not a bad option.
The Red Sox started the season with an 11-game road trip. They went 3-8 in that nightmare season opening. Since then things have improved somewhat. The Red Sox are now 22-17 on the road. That is a remarkable turnaround, with a 19-9 record in their last 28 road games. Their offense has been a big part of that, as they rank fifth in runs and home runs, and sixth in batting average away from Fenway. Right now the Red Sox are a team of road warriors
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Pitching: The Baltimore series may have given the Red Sox an option for their fifth starter. However, now they need to sort out starters three and four. As things stand, the Red Sox are looking at a Wildcard berth. And with that, they will need to win on the road to go deep in the playoffs. They cannot afford for two of their starters to be a liability on the road. What better time to prove they have it worked out than in the home of one of the best teams in the American League.
Hitting: After struggling to hit home runs again the Rangers the Red Sox put it right in the first game of the series. In that game alone they hit six home runs. Unfortunately, they followed that up with just one home run in the next two games combined. However, scoring seven runs in one of those games is just as promising as a game full of power. Being able to move men over and drive them in is going to be huge through the rest of the season, and the Sox cannot just rely on the long ball.
Before the season you would have said it would be disappointing if the Red Sox did not come out of Minnesota with two wins from this series. Now? Frankly, you would be happy just to get away from the Twins with a single win, and your dignity left intact. The sweep in Baltimore has bought the Red Sox some grace, by ensuring that no matter what they will be above .500 when they take on Toronto.
The Twins are a very good baseball team, but their slight Achilles heel has been their home form. Unfortunately, two of the Red Sox pitchers also have a serious issue on the road this season. Right now getting out of here with a single win will be more than good enough. Then they can hope to put the pedal down against the Blue Jays and White Sox in the following week. However, if Price can get the best of Pineda, then just one of Porcello and Rodriguez need a good start to make this a successful series. It will be tough, but imagine the confidence if they do win two or more in this series!