Now in the final month of the regular season, the Boston Red Sox can no longer find little victories in close losses.
So despite rallying from a 6-0 deficit to make it a one-run game in what was ultimately a loss to the visiting Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, Boston couldn't rest on the positives. Instead, the team will be forced to rebound as it welcomes Minnesota for the second contest of a three-game set Wednesday evening at Fenway Park.
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (16-5, 3.97 ERA) will get the nod for the Red Sox opposite Twins righty Jose Berrios (11-7, 3.57).
A Rafael Devers three-run home run in the fifth inning and Andrew Benintendi's solo shot in the eighth helped Boston get back in striking distance against Minnesota in the late innings Tuesday, but it wasn't enough to complete the comeback. While the bats and bullpen did their part, the starting pitching -- this time Rick Porcello -- once again put the team in a hole it could not climb out of.
"It's hard to do it that way the whole time. If we have to switch plans or do something different, we'll do it," manager Alex Cora told reporters. "We've just got to try to contain the offense the first few innings so we can get the lead and go to the big guys out there."
Rodriguez has been the Red Sox's most reliable starter this year -- especially of late, with one loss in his last 15 outings. He was 3-1 with a 3.41 ERA over six August starts and ended the month going five innings in a victory over the Colorado Rockies last Wednesday.
Rodriguez beat the Twins back in June, allowing four runs on eight hits over seven innings while striking out nine. For his career, he's 2-1 with a 4.20 ERA in five outings against Minnesota.
Berrios, meanwhile, comes in off an extra day of rest after having his scheduled start pushed back. The 25-year-old showed signs of emerging from a midseason funk when he held the Chicago White Sox to three runs on seven hits over six innings on Aug. 29.
Berrios was 1-2 with a 7.57 ERA in five August starts, though he still struck out 30 in his 27 1/3 innings. The right-hander is winless in four starts against Boston, going 0-3 with a 3.20 ERA.
The Red Sox are one of three American League opponents Berrios has yet to earn a win against, along with the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics. He struck out 10 and gave up just one run over eight innings in a tough-luck loss to Boston earlier this season.
Victories haven't been hard to come by for the Twins of late as they have won nine of their last 10 games to seize command of the AL Central division lead. Miguel Sano and Nelson Cruz each homered in Tuesday's win, expanding the club's major league record for homers in a season to 271.
"Pitching is there, the offense is definitely there, we're scoring a lot of runs," Cruz said. "It seems like every game we score enough to win games."
Minnesota improved to 7-1 on its current 10-game road trip.