BOSTON – The moment Ron Gardenhire saw Oswaldo Arcia’s swing in spring training, the Twins manager became a big fan.
Gardenhire has been committed to finding spots in the lineup for the young outfielder’s bat ever since Arcia was called up last month. That means riding out the ups and downs rookies go through. Arcia has been particularly precocious this week, cutting down on his swing with two strikes and shooting the ball to the opposite field.
“I like the first swing, personally,” Gardenhire said. “I want the kid to swing.”
Arcia celebrated his 22nd birthday Thursday by giving the manager what he wanted. Arcia’s triple in the fifth inning was the first big blow off Red Sox starter John Lackey, and his two-run homer in the sixth was part of a winning four-run rally as the Twins beat Boston 5-3 to win three of four games at Fenway Park for the second consecutive year. Arcia finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Ryan Doumit and Aaron Hicks each added an RBI.
Kevin Correia (4-2) earned the victory, but Brian Duensing, Jared Burton and Glen Perkins all pitched tough in the late innings to finish off the Red Sox. Perkins improved to 8-for-8 in save opportunities.
The Twins headed home with a 5-5 record on their 10-game road trip, finishing with three victories against a Red Sox team that began the day tied for the AL East lead. Arcia is surging, going 7-for-13 in the series and batting .424 on the road trip.
“It’s great to get a win on my birthday and hit a home run,” Arcia said through translator Wilkin Ramirez. “I can’t explain it.”
Arcia, signed by the Twins out of Venezuela at age 16, was in the starting lineup along with Hicks, Pedro Florimon and Brian Dozier — all young players trying to find their way.
“You look at some of the guys in our lineup that have less than two years of experience,” first baseman Justin Morneau said. “Mistakes are going to happen. That is how you learn.”
Boston led 2-0 after RBI singles by Dustin Pedroia in the third inning and by Stephen Drew in the fourth. Lackey, in his fourth start after recovering from elbow ligament replacement surgery last year, was a strike-throwing machine. But Arcia got the first hard hit off Lackey when he hammered a curveball off the center-field wall for a fifth-inning triple.
Hicks followed with a booming double to right to cut the Boston lead in half.
The Twins used a big error by Lackey to spark their four-run rally in the fifth. Joe Mauer singled and Morneau drew a one-out walk. Trevor Plouffe tapped back to the mound for what seemed like an easy, inning-ending double play, but Lackey (1-3) sliced his throw to second into center field, enabling Mauer to score the tying run while Morneau to chugged into third.
Doumit then hit a sacrifice fly to right, with Morneau sliding under catcher David Ross’ tag attempt for a 3-2 Twins lead.
Lackey had one more mistake in him: an 89-mile-per-hour fastball down the middle to Arcia, who drove it into the bullpen area behind the right-field wall.
Happy birthday, Oswaldo.
“It was just another good swing,” Gardenhire said. “I think what you see out of him is that he’s able to shorten his swing when he has to and lengthen it out like he did there. He got a pitch and really drove it.’’