The Red Sox are hovering near .500 but sit last in the AL East. That’s life in baseball’s toughest division, and it means Boston already doesn’t have much margin for error. Can the Red Sox build momentum with one more win over the Twins? Tanner Houck will be on the mound to face veteran Kenta Maeda on Thursday. The Red Sox enter favored at -120 on the moneyline.
Let’s make predictions for Thursday’s game and break down why the Red Sox can earn a series win.
Twins vs. Red Sox Prediction
The Twins’ pitching staff has been carrying the load early this season, marking a total 180 from recent years. Joe Ryan and Sonny Gray have both been excellent to start the year. Neither will be on the mound Thursday.
The Red Sox have hit well this season, especially at home, and can take advantage of an unsteady pitcher like Maeda who still seems to be getting up to speed after returning from Tommy John Surgery.
While Houck isn’t the type of starter who will deliver a shutdown outing, he’s been one of the steadier presences in a bad Red Sox rotation. With the way Boston has been hitting at home, Alex Cora’s squad is well positioned to pounce on Maeda and avoid dropping the series.
Twins vs. Red Sox Prediction: Red Sox -120
Twins vs. Red Sox Odds
The Red Sox enter as slight home favorites at -120 on the moneyline. The over/under is 9 runs.
Home-field advantage seems to be what’s driving this line, considering there isn’t a major advantage between starting pitchers. The Red Sox’ offense has been better this season, but Minnesota’s offensive outburst on Wednesday goes to show this Twins lineup shouldn’t be ignored.
Twins vs. Red Sox Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Twins vs. Red Sox.
Kenta Maeda vs. Fatigue
It’s been a long road back for Maeda, who missed all of 2022 after undergoing Tommy John Surgery in 2021, and pitchers don’t typically return to form right when they return. Maeda exited a start due to arm fatigue earlier in the month and had his turn skipped in the rotation last week to help him get back to full strength.
This could just be a side effect of the buildup after missing a full season, but it’ll be very interesting to see if the fatigue persists for Maeda on Thursday.
The Red Sox are averaging 5.33 runs per game and, to this point, have been pretty dangerous at home. This might be a tough spot for Maeda if he’s still battling some arm issues.
Red Sox Bullpen vs. Twins Lineup
One guarantee when facing the Red Sox this season is that you will see their bullpen. Boston’s makeshift rotation doesn’t give much length, even on its best nights, and that’s frequently the case when Tanner Houck is on the mound.
The former first-round pick has bounced between the rotation and the bullpen over the years, and he didn’t last longer than five innings in any of his first three starts this season. A high-walk rate has plagued Houck – as long as that’s true, he won’t last very long on Thursday.
Fortunately for the Red Sox, their bullpen has been better this season. Boston entered Wednesday with a 3.30 bullpen ERA, the 10th-best mark in baseball.
Can the Twins win the bullpen battle? Minnesota’s bullpen has been terrific early on, but it feels like runs are going to be needed in the late innings with Maeda on the mound.
Twins vs. Red Sox Starting Lineups
Twins Starting Lineup
RF Max Kepler L
SS Carlos Correa R
DH Byron Buxton R
LF Trevor Larnach L
2B Edouard Julien L
3B Jose Miranda R
1B Joey Gallo L
C Christian Vazquez R
CF Michael Taylor R
Red Sox Starting Lineup
RF Alex Verdugo L
3B Rafael Devers L
DH Justin Turner R
LF Masataka Yoshida L
SS Enrique Hernandez R
C Reese McGuire L
1B Triston Casas L
2B Christian Arroyo R
CF Jarren Duran L