Red Sox turn to Houck in opener vs. Twins

MLB Baseball

Tanner Houck aims to break into the win column as he starts the opener of the Boston Red Sox’s three-game home series against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night.

Houck (0-3, 3.12 ERA) has pitched well for the Red Sox this season, but has been unable to notch his first win despite Boston going 3-3 in games he has started.

The 25-year-old right-hander allowed two runs on five hits with no walks and two strikeouts, but only lasted four innings in a 5-3, seven-inning loss last Tuesday at the New York Yankees. Houck will be making his 11th career start in just his second season and has never faced the Rangers before.

Boston will try to keep rolling following a three-game series victory against the Texas Rangers. The Red Sox were 8-4 winners in the rubber match Monday after Sunday’s scheduled series finale was postponed due to Hurricane Henri.

Travis Shaw hit a walk-off grand slam in the 11th inning and Alex Verdugo and Hunter Renfroe also homered for the Red Sox, who beat the Rangers 6-0 in the series opener Friday before a surprising 10-1 blowout loss on Saturday.

Boston had dropped four of five and was tied with Oakland for the second American League wild-card spot entering Monday’s finale.

“We’ve been battling all year, especially it feels like the last two weeks or so,” said Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi, who struck out seven over seven innings of one-run ball on Monday. “I feel like we’ve done a really good job about not letting that affect us.”

Minnesota hopes to benefit from an extra day off after Sunday’s series finale at the Yankees was also postponed due to the hurricane. The Twins dropped three straight while being outscored 24-8 by the Yankees prior to the postponement.

Despite entering in last place in the AL Central standings, Minnesota has been playing better of late with four consecutive series victories and wins in nine of its last 13 games prior to the New York series.

The Twins had not named a starter for the series opener in Boston as of Monday afternoon. However, Griffin Jax (3-1, 5.11 ERA) was scheduled to start Sunday against the Yankees and would be the likely candidate to get the nod Tuesday.

“Obviously we have some things up in the air related to the health of our staff and just where we sit,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said about his rotation after losing ace Kenta Maeda to right forearm tightness in Saturday’s 7-1 loss.

Jax’s next start will be his seventh of the season after making his first four appearances out of the bullpen. The rookie right-hander has won two of his last three starts and is 2-1 with a 4.02 ERA in his six starts.

Minnesota slugger Miguel Sano will be available after the first baseman went on the paternity list Friday.

Christian Arroyo could return to the Red Sox’s starting lineup for the first time since July 18 after being activated from the 10-day injured list before Monday’s game. Arroyo entered Monday’s game as a pinch runner in the seventh inning and went 0-for-1.

Boston outscored Minnesota 17-9 in taking three of four games against the Twins on the road April 13-15.

–Field Level Media

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