Red Sox fall apart against cellar-dwelling Twins

BOSTON -- On a day where David Price takes the mound against the worst team in the American League and the offense scores nine runs with 15 hits, one would think the Boston Red Sox would come away with an easy win.

But the wind just didn't blow their way Saturday.

With large gusts making their way through Fenway Park -- most notably in the first two frames -- Price was largely ineffective, giving up five runs and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings. Still, he left with a lead, one that disappeared as the Minnesota Twins scored five runs in an ugly seventh inning for the Red Sox, who lost 11-9.

The loss featured six runs surrendered by the Red Sox's bullpen, a group that entered the day with an MLB-best 1.17 ERA in its last 11 games. But without Matt Barnes or Junichi Tazawa available Saturday, the good times came to a crashing halt.

"Not a good night from the mound," manager John Farrell said. "On a night when Barnes is unavailable, that's a guy who's missed in a game like tonight."

Barnes' unavailability stems back to Wednesday, when he threw 46 pitches in three innings to keep the San Francisco Giants at bay in an 11-7 win. As a result, Clay Buchholz instead came in in relief of Price with a man on and the potential tying run at the plate in the top of the sixth.

Buchholz, who Farrell has seemingly avoided at all costs this month, actually looked sharp, striking out Eduardo Nunez swinging on a changeup. The right-hander came back out for the seventh and got two of the first three men he faced out before things started to unravel.

First, Max Kepler hit a ball to right field that appeared catchable, but Michael Martinez -- playing in place of the injured Mookie Betts -- got turned around while running after the ball and wasn't able to make the play on what ended up being a triple. Then Kennys Vargas stepped to the plate and blooped a ball to left field that Brock Holt looked as if he a read on. Holt ended up diving to catch the ball but couldn't hold on, resulting in a run-scoring double.

From there, Buchholz was removed, and Tommy Layne and Heath Hembree came in to make matters worse. Layne gave up two hits and a walk without recording an out, and Hembree allowed the go-ahead runs to score on a bases-loaded single by Nunez.

After the game, Farrell announced that Hembree, who hasn't pitched a clean inning in his last five outings, was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

"That was a play that we've seen [made]," Farrell said of Vargas' pop up before saying the same of the Kepler triple. "I thought Clay deserved better in that spot."

Price added: "[Buchholz] did a great job. He did a really good job. It shouldn't have happened the way that it happened in the seventh inning. That's part of it. That's the way it's been going for him right now."

Once again after a start, Price was left to lament how poor he has pitched this season. His ERA climbed to 4.51 after Saturday's outing.

"It's been terrible," he said. "It's just no fun. It's awful."

There's nothing fun about losing two in a row to a cellar-dwelling team, especially when the Baltimore Orioles have won two straight against a division leader and now have a 1 1/2 game lead in the AL East. But that's the situation the Red Sox find themselves in now. And it's surely knocked the wind out of their sails.