The Boston Red Sox spent the offseason trying to improve what was already one of the majors’ best lineups.
It’s been their opponents, though, who have piled on the runs lately.
Looking to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat, the Red Sox try to prevent the Minnesota Twins from a season-best fourth straight win Saturday.
Boston (14-18) finished second in the majors in runs (818), home runs (211) and slugging percentage (.451) last year, and after acquiring Adrian Gonzalez(notes) from San Diego and signing four-time All-Star Carl Crawford(notes) to a 7-year, $142-million contract in the offseason, its offense seemed all the more threatening.
The Red Sox, however, rank ninth in the AL in runs and are tied for eighth in homers.
Crawford, whose 405 stolen bases since 2003 are the second-most in the majors, has just five with nine runs in 30 games. Gonzalez hit at least 30 homers during each of his last four seasons with the Padres but has left the yard just three times in 32 contests.
Boston has scored five runs during its three-game losing streak. One day after falling 11-0 to the Los Angeles Angels, the Red Sox failed to get much going offensively in Friday’s 9-2 loss to Minnesota (12-18) other than solo home runs from Gonzalez and J.D. Drew(notes).
The 20 combined runs allowed by Boston over a two-game span are a season worst at home. The Twins recorded their highest road run total Friday to end their seven-game skid at Fenway Park.
“We slapped the ball around. They made a couple of mistakes and we took advantage of it,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I can’t remember who got all the hits, but we beat it around pretty good. It was all the way up and down the lineup, which is a good thing.”
Clay Buchholz(notes) (2-3, 4.81 ERA) will try to slow down Minnesota, which hasn’t won back-to-back games at Fenway since Sept. 19-20, 2006. While opponents are batting .338 against the right-hander over his last three starts, he’s managed to go 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA over that span.
He allowed two runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings of Monday’s 9-5 win over the Angels.
“I just tried to do the little things right and control the controllables and go from there,” Buchholz told MLB.com.
Buchholz is 1-1 with a 6.57 ERA in two career outings against the Twins, whose starters have compiled a 1.14 ERA over 23 2-3 innings during their three-game winning streak, including Francisco Liriano’s(notes) no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.
Duensing is coming off his first loss, an 11-2 defeat at Kansas City last Saturday during which he gave up three runs - two earned - and eight hits in seven innings.