BOSTON — Mookie Betts knows the Boston Red Sox are running out of time to be patient.
The reigning AL MVP homered on the first two pitches he saw from José Berríos on Wednesday night, collecting four hits and five RBIs in all to help Boston beat the Minnesota Twins 6-2.
“I just know he’s a good pitcher and if you start falling behind, he’s going to put you away quick,” Betts said after the Red Sox won for the 12th time in 17 games to remain 5½ back in the race for the second AL wild card. “That’s kind of the general thought: You’ve got to be aggressive.”
The game was delayed 47 minutes at the start by a rainstorm, then two Twins outfielders took the wrong positions for the first inning.
It got even stranger at the end.
Willians Astudillo was hit on the forearm while swinging in the ninth, and he was initially called out before returning to complete his at-bat. Then plate umpire Ramon DeJesus was hit on the left hand by a pitch, sending his pitch counter flying; while the Boston trainer was tending to him, second base ump CB Bucknor ran off to the umpire’s room to get a chest protector and was still missing when the game resumed after DeJesus decided to stay in the game.
Bucknor returned for the next batter.
Meanwhile, Minnesota put two on with one out before Brandon Workman got Nelson Cruz on a game-ending 1-4-3 double play. The AL Central-leading Twins, who had won seven of eight, fell to 5½ games ahead of second-place Cleveland in the division.
“It was obviously not a crisp inning,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “There was some weird stuff going on.”
Betts homered into the first row of the Green Monster seats on the first pitch from Berríos (11-8), then sent one over the seats and out of the ballpark with two on in the second to make it 4-0. Betts added a single down the third base line in the fourth and hit an RBI single in the sixth.
He came up again in the eighth and made his only out, on a line drive back at the mound that pitcher Brusdar Graterol caught before it hit him in the gut.
Berríos pitched five-plus innings, allowing six runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out six. It was the second-most runs he’s permitted this season, but Baldelli said his outing wasn’t that bad.
“I think it came down to Mookie’s really good at what he does,” the manager said.
Eduardo Rodriguez (17-5) allowed only five singles in seven shutout innings, striking out eight while walking four and hitting a batter. The Red Sox are 12-1 when he starts at Fenway Park.
Ryan Brasier relieved Rodriguez to start the eighth and immediately gave up a single to Cruz and a two-run homer to Eddie Rosario before Workman ended it in four pitches.
PLAYING BY THE SEAT OF THEIR PANTS
Astudillo threw out Mitch Moreland from one knee on a dribbler in front of the plate in the second inning.
Berríos did even better, diving to stop Andrew Benintendi’s checked-swing nubber down the third base line in the fifth, and throwing from one knee as he fell away from the play. He wound up flat on his back before third baseman Miguel Sanó came over to congratulate him, putting his arm around the pitcher as they walked off the field together.
Max Kepler, who was listed as the center fielder, and Jake Cave, who was supposed to be in right, switched positions for the first inning.
“It was a miscommunication,” Baldelli said.
The manager said one piece of paper had them listed that way, but the players never got the message that the plan had changed by game time. They returned to the right positions for the bottom of the second.
The Red Sox had 21 pitchers on the roster for the game, with 17 of them in the bullpen in case they were needed. They used five pitchers in all.
“Obviously, it’s not perfect, but our starters are not giving us enough,” manager Alex Cora said. “We need matchups. We need arms.”
Major League Baseball allows teams to expand their rosters as of Sept. 1, and Boston’s Triple-A team finished its season on Tuesday night. The rules are changing in 2020 to allow for only more limited call-ups, but for now, Cora said, “The rules are the rules.”
Twins: RHP Sam Dyson (biceps soreness) has returned to the Twin Cities. He was on the 10-day injured list in August for the same problem. … INF Marwin Gonzalez (abdomen) is not yet ready to return, Baldelli said. Gonzalez has not played since Aug. 27. … Kepler (upper chest soreness) left in the seventh. Baldelli said he thought it was a muscle spasm. … SS Jorge Polanco had a sore knuckle on his right middle finger and left in the eighth inning.
Red Sox: INF Michael Chavis (left shoulder sprain), on the IL since Aug. 12, was scheduled to swing a bat.