Postgame, Twins 9-8: One roster move to inform you of before we close up shop for the night.
Josh Reddick, who entered this one as a pinch runner and went 0-for-2, was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. He just needed to show the team that the soreness he was experiencing in his side was OK.
“Now he needs to go and get some at-bats,” Terry Francona said.
Francona added some thoughts on Daisuke Matsuzaka and Bobby Jenks, who helped author a tale of two pitchers.
On Matsuzaka: “His stuff was sharp. His fastball has some real good finish.”
Francona made a particular reference to the battle with Denard Span in the fifth (see note below) and how Matsuzaka never wavered in the somewhat awkward inning.
“He came right back and attacked the next hitter,” Francona added.
On Jenks: “He told us he felt kinda blah. Everything was a little flatter than he was all spring…Just a bad night.”
In true form, Francona added that the pressure of the Mayor’s Cup may have got to Jenks.
On that note, we will wrap up from City of Palms Park. Actually, in my case, it could be forever as the Red Sox are moving to a new facility next spring and I’m flying home to Boston tomorrow. Six hours…er…six weeks down here was enough. Thanks to everyone who followed the live blog and read all the other news and notes. I will rejoin you Wednesday night when the team plays in Houston. Until then, Mike Hurley and Nick Coman will carry you through the remaining games here in Florida.
Final, Twins 9-8: Well, the important thing is Daisuke Matsuzaka looked very, very good.
But only fans on the south side of Fort Myers will be celebrating tonight as the Twins claim the Mayor’s Cup with a rally that will live in infamy. My condo is near the Twins’ facilities so I might need to lock the doors and windows.
Boston has now dropped nine straight Grapefruit League games, which has to close to a record, if it isn’t already.
We’ll go get some reaction from Terry Francona. Back soon.
Mid 9th, Twins 9-8: As Texas Jack Vermillion (or was it Turkey Creek Jack Johnson) said to Wyatt Earp before he went off to duel Johnny Ringo, thinking Earp was a goner, “I ain’t got the words.”
But I’ll try for those of you who missed it. Bobby Jenks just gave up six runs — two earned — on five hits in the ninth and the Twins are now just three outs from the greatest win in Mayor’s Cup history.
End 8th, Red Sox 8-3: While we were away Dan Wheeler got knocked around a little bit, but have no fear. Bobby Jenks is on to get the final three outs.
End 7th, Red Sox 8-1: Jarrod Saltalamacchia is 5-for-7 with a home run, three doubles and five RBIs in his last two games. He knocked in a run with a two-bagger in the seventh.
Off to hear from the Dice Man.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 7-1: Solid frame for Hideki Okajima. Just a two-out single and he finishes it off by getting Rene Rivera on a nice breaking ball.
Get up and stretch!
Daisuke Matsuzaka’s final line:
6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K’s
He has surrendered three earned runs in 16 2/3 innings over his last three starts with opponents getting just 10 hits off of him in that span. Not too shabby.
End 6th, Red Sox 7-1: People have said I’m nuts (they don’t know the half of it) but I think you might see Drew Sutton at Fenway Park at some point.
Not only has he played well all spring, but he plays every position in the infield and they will need someone other than Jed Lowrie at some point.
Sutton improved to .353 (18-for-51) with an RBI single in the sixth. Only Jacoby Ellsbury has more hits.
Daisuke Matsuzaka is done after six very good frames. Hideki Okajima, who could use a good outing in his bid for a spot in the bullpen, is the new pitcher.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 6-1: For the second time in as many nights we see a Red Sox pitcher hit a guy in the head. This time, it’s not nearly as scary as a Daisuke Matsuzaka offering just glances off the top of the helmet of Michael Cuddyer.
That loaded the bases with two outs against Matsuzaka, but he pulled the string on Danny Valencia to get an inning-ending strikeout.
Matsuzaka has four Ks, all in the last three innings. He has looked very sharp at times, and when the Twins have threatened he has held his cool.
End 5th, Red Sox 6-1: Four hits highlight the two-run rally for the Red Sox. The reserves are beginning to sprinkle in, but Daisuke Matsuzaka is going strong.
8:45 p.m.: The Red Sox add to their lead with a single by Darnell McDonald, a double by Dustin Pedroia and then a little situational hitting.
Carl Crawford got a grounder up the middle that scored McDonald from third and Kevin Youkilis launched a deep fly to right to plate Drew Sutton, who ran for Pedroia.
Adrian Gonzalez added a single to chase Brian Duensing. Pitching change here at City of Palms.
Gonzalez has four hits in the last two games and by my count five of his six hits this spring have gone the other way.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 4-1: Daisuke Matsuzaka’s streak of consecutive outs ends at 11 on a two-out single by Alexi Casilla.
In the ensuing at-bat with Denard Span, Matsuzaka had to contend with Casilla stealing second and with Span calling time three times, twice when Dice-K had already started his windup.
The two plunged into an extremely lengthy duel that lasted at least 10 pitches. Matsuzaka was the winner, but the grounder Span hit to first was bobbled by Adrian Gonzalez.
That’s the second error in as many nights for Gonzalez.
By my count, Matsuzaka threw 13 of the last 15 pitches of the inning for strikes, but it may have been better than that. Admirable job by him of not letting a very odd set of circumstances distract him and continuing to pound the zone.
End 4th, Red Sox 4-1: Brian Duensing has struck out five of the last eight Red Sox hitters he has faced.
Unfortunately, the first of those came on the heels of Darnell McDonald’s three-run triple and in the middle of the run came Adrian Gonzalez’s solo home run.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 4-1: Daisuke Matsuzaka has retired nine in a row, seven of them through the air.
Darnell McDonald made a nice running catch in center field for the first out of the fourth. Matsuzaka recorded his first strikeout for the last.
End 3rd, Red Sox 4-1: Adrian Gonzalez is playing in back-to-back big league games for the first time all spring and appears to be getting into the swing of things, excuse the pun.
He was 2-for-4 with an RBI and his first extra-base hit (a double) Friday night. Now, he has his first round-tripper in a Red Sox uniform with a blast to left off of Brian Duensing.
The ball was a bit of a line shot and may have caught the Green Monster in Fenway.
Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz both struck out in the frame. They have combined for 27 Ks in 101 at-bats this spring.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 3-1: This is the third start for Daisuke Matsuzaka since he made the adjustment of separating his bullpen sessions and long-toss sessions into different days. Previously, he did them on the same day, but pitching coach Curt Young suggested the alteration.
Terry Francona has said often that it won’t necessarily manifest itself into any drastic changes for Matsuzaka, but the before and after is hard to ignore.
Prior to the change, Matsuzaka had given up 11 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings. Since, he has yielded three runs in 13 2/3 innings.
End 2nd, Red Sox 3-1: Prior to the game, Terry Francona talked about how difficult this stage of spring training is in that he has to cut guys and have difficult conversations.
He was then asked about Darnell McDonald, with whom he can (if he wants) have a very different kind of talk and tell McDonald he is with the team going north.
“Those are fun conversations,” Francona said. “Seems like there’s more hard ones than fun ones, but it’s even satisfying for us [when we can give players good news].”
McDonald had to make Francona smile in the second with a three-run triple on the first pitch he saw from Brian Duensing.
The Red Sox rally began with two outs. Mike Cameron put forth a really good at-bat against Duensing. Cameron, who is now hitting .316 (12-for-38) fouled off a series of pitches before lining a single to left. Jarrod Saltalamacchia followed with a base hit of his own and Jed Lowrie reached on an error by Michael Cuddyer.
McDonald then laced a shot to the Budweiser sign in left-center field. All three runs are unearned.
Mid 2nd, Twins 1-0: A leadoff walk by Daisuke Matsuzaka induced a few groans here at City of Palms Park.
He gets the next three in order, however, and we move to the bottom of the inning.
End 1st, Twins 1-0: Well that was fast. Brian Duensing gets three straight easy grounders to fly through the top third of the Red Sox order.
Duensing enters this one 3-1 with a 1.59 ERA and he is coming off a pretty spectacular year in which he pitched mostly out of the bullpen.
Mid 1st, Twins 1-0: A single and an error by Mike Cameron puts the leadoff man, Denard Span, on second base and Joe Mauer hammered an opposite-field RBI double one out later.
Daisuke Matsuzaka is working with Jarrod Saltalamacchia tonight. Matsuzaka has allowed 13 runs — 11 earned — on 12 hits in just 7 2/3 innings with catchers not named Jason Varitek (12.91 ERA).
With the captain, Matsuzaka has yielded only three runs on six hits in 12 2/3 innings (2.13 ERA). The Sox do not want to have any pitcher pigeon-holed into having him throw to a specific catcher, but they will want to have Tek behind the plate when they can when Matsuzaka is pitching.
7:00 p.m.: They ought to begin a course called “Late-game Management” at the University of Florida and make it a requisite for all their basketball players. Holy cow, I’ve never seen more unnecessary or ill-timed 3-point attempts.
Anyway, that’s another sport. This one at City of Palms Park involves bats and bases and stuff. And inside the Red Sox clubhouse sits the Mayor’s Cup, which will be subjected to all sorts of shenanigans if Boston can snap its eight-game losing streak tonight.
I expect a member of Fort Myers finest to find it in a gutter at some point early tomorrow morning, the stench of booze all over it.
6:00 p.m.: So here is the skinny on the bullpen situation after today’s addition of Dennys Reyes to the 40-man roster.
In other very minor news, Jason Rice, Blake Maxwell and Daniel Butler will accompany the team to Houston to help get through that game without using too many of the big leaguers.
Josh Reddick, who is still in the major league camp, has been bothered by a pain in his side. Terry Francona did not say whether it is a rib or an oblique or what, just that it is sore. Rather than send Reddick to the minor league camp a bit banged up, the organization wants to get him right before making any move.
Reddick has missed the past few days but is taking batting practice again so he may be in games again soon. If he’s healthy do not be surprised if Reddick goes on the Houston trip and then heads to Pawtucket after that.
The clubhouse had a bit of a surreal feel to it today. With so many cuts made the last few days, lockers that were abuzz with activity all month are now vacant and clubhouse personell is busy packing boxes that will be sent north to Boston.
Nestled in one corner is a group of about 30 boxes and bags, and next to them is a large stuffed horse, apparently the result of a shopping trip one of the players took with his kids.
Then, on the dry erase board inside the entrance it is written: “Get your cold weather gear here for road trip.”
Of course, the warm stuff wan’t be needed in Texas, but a three-game series looms in Cleveland in just nine days. That will be shock to the system after more than a month of insanely nice weather down here.
4:41 p.m.: Since this is the deciding game of the Mayor’s Cup, I thought you might want to hear some of the jokes thrown around by Terry Francona on the topic.
The trophy, which means nothing except to symbolize the fact that Fort Myers has two teams which train here, is a constant target of sarcasm.
After the Twins took the first game all the way back on Feb. 27, Francona unveiled a slightly more formidable lineup the next day in a rematch.
“We’re just tyring to win the Mayor’s Cup,” Francona said. “We frontloaded it today for obvious reasons, panic setting in.”
Before that game, which the Red Sox eventually won, Francona pretended as if he would have to make some massive changes if they fell down 2-0. He said that John Lackey would be bumped up a day to be available for Game 3 in relief, if needed. Lackey might’ve even been sent ahead to a hotel just a few miles away to get some rest in advance of the outing, Francona joked.
When Boston dropped a meeting on March 11 to fall down 2-1, it came with DeMarlo Hale managing the team (it was a split-squad afternooon) and after Jonathan Papelbon had a tough outing.
Francona suspected that the pressure of the Mayor’s Cup got to both.
“I don’t think DeMarlo was ready for that,” Francona said of his bench coach. “I thought he was but I don’t think he was quite ready.”
At one point, a parade route was fictitiously planned through the streets surrounding City of Palms Park if and when the Red Sox won.
Now, with the big day finally hear and champagne on ice in both clubhouses, the pressure is on big time.
Francona said he knew Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire was itching to reclaim the cup when he saw the Twins lineup, complete with Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.
“Gardy…he pays attention. He’s not Manager of the Year for nothing.”
Now, as for those lineups, here they are, for both teams.
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Carl Crawford, LF
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Cameron, RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Jed Lowrie, SS
Darnell McDonald, CF
Denard Span, CF
Tsuyoshi Nishioka, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, DH
Delmon Young, LF
Jason Kubel, RF
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Danny Valencia, 3B
Alexi Casilla, SS
3:52 p.m.: The Dennys Reyes situation is ironed out, but there are still a few wrinkles.
The Red Sox have purchased the contract of Reyes and added him to the 40-man roster. To make room, they’ve placed Junichi Tazawa on the 60-day disabled list.
The bullpen competition, however, remains alive.
“Still have guys in camp and he’s one of them,” manager Terry Francona said.
One of those guys, Hideki Okajima, will pitch tonight. Other decisions involve whether to keep two lefties beyond the five right-handers in the bullpen, or to just keep one of either Okajima or Reyes and one of the two righties, Matt Albers and Alfredo Aceves.
2:51 p.m.: Well, Dennys Reyes is still here.
The left-hander, who has no opt-out clause if he is not on the team by this date, is awaiting word from the club as to his fate.
“They’re talking, they don’t know yet,” Reyes told reporters just minutes ago. “They’re still thinking about what’s the best decision for the team and I’m gonna wait and see what they decide to do.”
Reyes was asked if the deadline could be extended.
“We’ll see. We’ll see,” he said. “That’s something I and my agent have to talk about. I’m just going to wait and see what they’re going to say.”
Hideki Okajima, one of those with whom Reyes is in a competition, is scheduled to pitch in tonight’s game. Matt Albers and Alfredo Aceves are also in the mix for what figures to be two remaining spots.
10 a.m.: The Mayor’s Cup comes down to a decisive fifth game when the Red Sox host the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night at City of Palms Park.
Boston has won the annual spring training series each of the last four years. The incredible weight of keeping that streak alive falls on the shoulders of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who will be looking to keep alive a nice little run of his own.
After a slow start to the spring, Matsuzaka has given up just two runs in his last 10 2/3 innings over two outings. He will be opposed by lefty Brian Duensing.
First pitch of the Red Sox’ second-to-last game at City of Palms Park is 7:05 p.m.