09/28/07 1:24 AM ET
Twins batter Beckett, hold on for win
Bonser works through rocky first inning to earn victory
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
|"We made some big pitches when we had to. It doesn't get much better than here at Fenway Park. Everybody gets into it, [it's] a very exciting and very loud crowd. I think all of the guys enjoyed it."|
|-- Ron Gardenhire|
"Varitek has come up big for them so many times," Nathan said. "I know how good of a player he is and how clutch he can be, so I just really wanted to be aggressive. [With] bases loaded, there was nowhere to put him. So I wanted to make some pitches, get ahead and see what happens."After falling down 0-2 quickly, Varitek battled through a seven-pitch at-bat before striking out swinging at a down-and-away slider. Pinch-hitter Kevin Youkilis then came to the plate with the rain still falling, and Nathan got his second swinging strikeout to end the threat and capture his 36th save of the season. Just your average everyday save opportunity. "We made some big pitches when we had to," Gardenhire said. "It doesn't get much better than here at Fenway Park. Everybody gets into it, [it's] a very exciting and very loud crowd. I think all of the guys enjoyed it. We haven't had much to cheer about lately, but that was a big one for us." It was a victory that had looked far from possible after the bottom of the first inning. Boof Bonser was making his first start since being taken out of the rotation in mid-September. A laborious first inning in which Bonser (8-12) threw 39 pitches and struggled to get outs didn't appear promising. Bonser gave up two runs over that inning, erasing the 1-0 lead the Twins had built off one of the year's frontrunners for the American League Cy Young Award, Josh Beckett. But just as the momentum seemed to have vanished, Michael Cuddyer led off the second inning with a blast over the Green Monster for his 16th homer of the year. It tied the ballgame at 2. "That was a pretty big lift for us, and I think that's what got us going," Torii Hunter said. The Twins would slowly peck away at Beckett (20-7) from there, tallying a total of five runs on 10 hits over his six innings. Bonser, meanwhile, would settle down to pitch five innings, allowing just three runs on six hits during that time. And while it would take a case of late-inning heroics by their closer to pull off the victory, the skipper said he expects nothing less when playing at Boston. "Like I say all the time, when you are playing the Red Sox, you've got to hold on," Gardenhire said. "And tonight, we were able to hold on."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.