Just when it appeared the Boston Red Sox were poised to go on a run, they've struggled against one of the AL's worst teams.
Sending Clay Buchholz to the mound usually brings them success.
Trying to snap a three-game losing streak, the Red Sox turn to Buchholz as they continue their series Saturday night against the Minnesota Twins.
After taking two of three from AL East-leading New York last weekend and doing the same against Detroit, Boston (53-54) has lost its first two against Minnesota, which has the second-worst record in the AL.
The Twins (46-60) shut out the Red Sox on Thursday, then rallied from four down to record a 6-5 victory in 10 innings Friday.
Carl Crawford went 3 for 5 with a three-run homer, but Boston went 3 for 14 with runners in scoring position and Felix Doubront couldn't protect the lead, giving up four runs in the fifth.
With the Yankees opening a 7 1/2-game lead atop the AL East over the Red Sox, Boston's best chance for reaching the playoffs likely will come by winning one of the two wild-card spots. However, it must still overtake four teams just to claim the second spot.
''Talent can only go so far. You have to figure out ways to win,'' Red Sox right fielder Cody Ross said. ''There's a difference between being a really talented group and being a winning group.
"On paper, it looks like that, but right now it just feels like we're treading water and it's not a good feeling. We got to snap out of it."
Buchholz (9-3, 4.75 ERA) will trying to help the Red Sox avoid losing three straight at home to the Twins in a series for the first time since 1994.
The right-hander has a 1.57 ERA over his last three starts and is 6-1 at Fenway Park this year. He gave up three runs in eight innings of a 7-3 victory over Detroit on Monday.
"Everything feels in synch right now," he said of his recent success.
Boston has won seven of Buchholz's last eight starts and is 12-6 when he takes the mound this year.
Buchholz has won his last three starts against the Twins, although he struggled against April 25, allowing five runs and a season-high 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-6 victory.
Minnesota, which has won six of eight, is averaging 6.4 runs over that stretch. Jamey Carroll and Justin Morneau each went 4 for 4 on Friday, with Carroll providing the go-ahead RBI single in the 10th.
"A lot of times, we haven't been able to get over the hump. It seems like lately we've found a way to get the big hit," Carroll said.
Cole De Vries (2-2, 3.98), who is winless in his last five starts, takes the mound as the Twins try to continue playing spoiler.
De Vries gave up five runs and seven hits in five innings of a 7-6 win over Chicago on Monday, settling down after a four-run first. The right-hander doesn't have a decision in his last three outings, during which he has a 3.18 ERA.
- Boston Red Sox
- Clay Buchholz