With their offense rolling, the Minnesota Twins are getting tremendous production from the No. 3 hitter in their lineup.
At this point, the Boston Red Sox are simply hoping for any kind of contribution from their regular No. 3 hitter.
Justin Morneau(notes) looks to continue his power surge and lead the Twins to their sixth victory in seven games on Wednesday night when they continue their four-game series against the Red Sox and the struggling David Ortiz(notes), who has recently been dropped in the batting order.
In Minnesota’s 5-2 win over Boston (27-19) on Tuesday night, Morneau’s 14th homer - a three-run shot - capped a five-run fifth inning for the Twins (23-24), who have won five of six after losing a season-high six in a row.
Morneau is batting .417 (25 for 60) with seven home runs and 25 RBIs in his last 16 home games and is 5 for 9 with a homer and a double lifetime versus scheduled starter Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes) (0-2, 10.32 ERA).
While Morneau is helping Joe Mauer(notes) carry Minnesota’s offense, Red Sox manager Terry Francona moved Ortiz to sixth in the order Tuesday - the first time the five-time All-Star was out of the No. 3 spot since May 13, 2005.
“Got to work my way up, right? I’m going to play and follow orders,” the slumping slugger said.
Ortiz went 1 for 3 with a double Tuesday and is 4 for 27 with a homer and three RBIs in seven games since sitting out Boston’s series against Seattle May 15-17. He’s batting .197 with one home run and 18 RBIs in 41 games.
Besides Ortiz, the Red Sox are also hoping Matsuzaka can get back on track.
Matsuzaka was instrumental to Boston’s success last season by going 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA, but has struggled through three starts this year.
In his first start since coming off the disabled list because of right arm fatigue, Matsuzaka allowed four runs and five hits while throwing 80 pitches in five innings of a 5-3 loss to the New York Mets on Friday. The right-hander was placed on the DL on April 15, one day after he was tagged for five runs and five hits in one inning at Oakland.
While the Red Sox have lost all three of Matsuzaka’s starts this season, they’ve won all three of his outings against the Twins. Matsuzaka is 2-0 with a 1.61 ERA in those games.
Slowey, who is backed by a major league-best 8.62 runs of support, is 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA in his last three starts after posting a 5.50 ERA in his first six.
On Saturday, the right-hander permitted three runs, eight hits and no walks with four strikeouts in 7 1-3 innings of an 11-3 win over Milwaukee. Slowey has the major’s best strikeout-to-walk ratio with 39 strikeouts and four base on balls in 55 1-3 innings.
In his only career start against the Red Sox on Sept. 28, 2007, Slowey gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 5-2 loss at Fenway Park.