Baker hit hard, Twins drop opener
Starter allows three homers as offense never clicks
BOSTON -- It has not been a good start to the 2009 season for Scott Baker.
Baker started the season on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness. He then made his debut on April 15 and allowed five hits and six runs over four innings against Toronto.
Baker's second start didn't go much better on Wednesday at Fenway Park. The right-hander allowed three two-run homers and was roughed up for six runs on 10 hits as the Red Sox beat the Twins, 10-1, in the first game of a day-night doubleheader on Wednesday.
Baker has surrendered 15 hits and 12 earned runs over 8 2/3 innings, all of which adds up to a 12.46 ERA.
"It was a little better than last outing as far as the mechanics go, as far as getting the ball down," Baker said. "For the most part, I was down today."
But when he wasn't, he was hit and hit hard.
"I think right now he's missing location, [the ball's] up in the zone," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The one home run I think [Nick] Green hit was probably down a little bit, not a bad pitch, but too much of the plate. The other ones, the balls he's getting up, they're getting whacked. He's just not getting the ball where he wants to and these are very good hitters."
"It's not a confidence [issue]," Baker said. "I don't really feel it's a mechanical issue anymore. It just comes down to making better pitches, and that's really all there is to it. I know I can do it. I've done it before so there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to continue to make better pitches than I did today."
As Wednesday showed, Baker is struggling to walk the fine line between being aggressive and making smart pitches.
"You don't want to walk a lot of guys but they have to be pitchers' pitches," Baker said. "You definitely don't want to hurt yourself by walking guys, but at the same time you have to continue to make good pitches on the corners, and I didn't do that quite well today."
Kevin Youkilis began the tough game for Minnesota in the first inning when he drove an outside pitch just inside the Pesky Pole in shallow right field for his fourth homer of the season. The homer brought in David Ortiz and gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead.
Green and Mike Lowell each hit a two-run homer in the next two innings as Boston raced out to a 6-0 lead after three.
"I'm not too discouraged," Baker said. "Right now, [I'm] not doing too well. I need to pitch better. Really, that's all there is to it. Physically, I feel great. The stuff is there; I just need to be more consistent. For the most part, I [kept the ball] down today. It just seemed like every pitch that wasn't where I wanted it to be, they hit it."
Baker (0-2) lasted just 4 2/3 innings in his second start back from the disabled list after right shoulder stiffness.
The Twins had a chance to get back into the game in the fifth against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (2-1) when Green dropped a toss at second base from Dustin Pedroia on a ball hit by Alexi Casilla.
With the bases loaded, Justin Morneau followed with a sharp one-out single to right field to score Carlos Gomez. But Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer followed with back-to-back popouts to first base.
"You're not going to really square [Wakefield] up, and we gave it a shot and it didn't work out," Kubel said. "[The knuckleball] was moving around pretty good today. I thought maybe the weather might keep it from doing that, but it didn't. It was still moving pretty good."
Wakefield held the Twins to one run and five hits over seven innings, striking out three and walking none. The 42-year-old became the oldest pitcher to throw consecutive complete games since Charlie Hough on June 17-22, 1992, with the White Sox.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, there was a rain delay. Before the stoppage in play, the Red Sox had scored four runs in the inning to take a 10-1 lead, roughing up reliever Juan Morillo for four runs on three walks and a hit. Morillo didn't retire a batter.
With the bases still loaded and one out, the game went into rain delay and was later called after a one-hour, 25-minute delay.
"Kind of a weird game there," Gardenhire said. "[Baker] got off to a bad start. He kept throwing twos up there for three innings, and you're down deep. We had a few chances off Wake, but he made enough pitches to get out of them. Every opportunity, we couldn't get it done to get back in the game. We all saw the last rain, the hard rain, and the kid couldn't find the strike zone and it got a little ugly after that."
Mike Petraglia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.