Boston’s offense was held in check throughout most of the game, and the Twins earned an 8-3 victory to improve their Grapefruit League record to 16-16. With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 16-17-1.
Ryan Dempster got the start for Boston, and he pitched four innings, allowing three runs on three hits. He walked three and struck out four in what was his final tune-up before the regular season.
After Dempster departed, Junichi Tazawa, Clayton Mortensen, Marco Duarte and Robby Scott saw work.
One more spring training game is all that separates the Red Sox and the regular season. That contest will come on Saturday afternoon at JetBlue Park, where the Sox will host these same Twins.
Saturday’s first pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. ET. Coverage of the game can be found on NESNplus, with the Bruins’ game airing on NESN. To find out which channel is NESNplus for you, check out the listings at the link below.
End 8th, Twins 8-2: The Red Sox nearly kept the Twins off the scoreboard, but the sun ensured Minnesota would add another run.
Daniel Ortiz led off the inning by lining a ball into left field. Mike Carp charged in, and he made a nice, sliding grab for the inning’s first out.
Pedro Florimon then singled into center field to make the new pitcher, Robby Scott, work a little bit.
Scott got Clete Thomas — who pinch hit for Jamey Carroll — to fly out to center, but a fly ball off the bat of Doug Bernier proved to be much more problematic.
Right fielder Bryce Brentz lost Bernier’s fly ball in the sun, and the ball dropped in. Florimon would score all the way from first base, and Bernier ended up with a double.
James Beresford grounded out to end the inning.
Mid 8th, Twins 7-2: The Red Sox got one back in the eighth, but they’ll still have a ways to go in the ninth.
Pedro Ciriaco connected on a one-out triple into the right-center field gap. He would then be lifted for a pinch runner in Derrik Gibson, who would score when Ronald Bermudez lined a base hit into left field.
Bryce Brentz grounded into a 5-4 force out for the second out of the inning, and Justin Henry ended the frame by grounding out to second base.
End 7th, Twins 7-1: The Twins put up three runs in the seventh.
After Pedro Florimon popped out to third base, Jamey Carroll singled up the middle. Carroll would move up on a wild pitch by Marco Duarte.
With Carroll on second, Doug Bernier singled into left field. Mike Carp juggled it a bit, but the Twins opted to hold Carroll at third base.
James Beresford ensured the run would score, though. In his first at-bat of the game, Beresford doubled to left, scoring Carroll and moving Bernier to third.
Eric Fryer flew out to right field for the second out. The ball wasn’t hit deep enough for Bernier to tag up, and Duarte was one out away from limiting the Twins to just one run.
Unfortunately for Boston, Dan Rohlfing kept the inning alive with a two-run single into right field, putting Minnesota’s lead at 7-1.
Wilkin Ramirez would single up the middle to continue the threat, but Duarte struck out Eduardo Escobar to finally end the inning.
Mid 7th, Twins 4-1: Bruce Pugh followed up Clayton Mortensen’s easy, 1-2-3 inning by making quick work of the Red Sox in the seventh.
Will Middlebrooks, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jonny Gomes were retired in order. The trio is now a combined 0-for-8 in this game.
Marco Duarte will come on to pitch for Boston in the bottom of the seventh.
In addition to Duarte taking over on the mound, the Sox have made a number of other subs. Michael Almanzar, Blake Swihart and Mike Carp are in. Will Middlebrooks, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jackie Bradley Jr. are out.
End 6th, Twins 4-1: Clayton Mortensen learned that he won a spot in the Boston bullpen. Surely, he hopes most outings go the way his sixth inning did.
Mortensen made quick work of the Twins, retiring Wilkin Ramirez, Eduardo Escobar and Daniel Ortiz in order.
Ramirez struck out, Escobar popped out and Ortiz flew out.
The Red Sox have also made some substitutions. Ronald Bermudez, Bryce Brentz, Justin Henry and Daniel Nava are in. Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli are out.
Mid 6th, Twins 4-1: The Red Sox couldn’t muster up a hit through the first five innings, but they ended the drought in the sixth, and it led to a run.
Jackie Bradley Jr. — being the on-base machine that he is — walked to lead off the inning. He would advance to second two batters later, when Jacoby Ellsbury lined a one-out single into right field.
Shane Victorino flew out to center for the second out, but Dustin Pedroia ensured the Red Sox came away from the inning with something. Pedroia singled into right field, which brought home Bradley with Boston’s first run.
Mike Napoli struck out to end the inning, but the Sox are chipping away.
End 5th, Twins 4-0: Junichi Tazawa is an overlooked member of Boston’s bullpen, but he was one of the team’s lone bright spots in 2012, and he could provide valuable innings in 2013.
Tazawa struggled a bit in the fifth inning, though.
Jamey Carroll shot a single through the right side. Brian Dozier then blooped a base hit just in front of right fielder Shane Victorino to set up runners at first and second to begin the inning.
Things got even hairier from there, with Trevor Plouffe working a walk to load the bases.
At that point, it was all about damage control, and Tazawa actually did a pretty good job of minimizing the damage.
Eric Fryer grounded to Mike Napoli, who looked to start a double play by firing to second base. Pedro Ciriaco received the throw for the first out, but he was unable to chuck it back to first to complete the twin killing because Tazawa didn’t get over to cover the bag in time. That allowed a run to score.
With runners at the corners and one out, Tazawa got out of the inning by getting Chris Parmelee to ground into a 4-6-3 double play. Parmelee didn’t agree with the call, but hey, what can you do?
Mid 5th, Twins 3-0: The Red Sox got a baserunner, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia almost made it a 3-2 game. The key word, however, is “almost.”
After Mike Napoli popped out to start the inning, Will Middlebrooks earned a walk.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia then made a home run bid to right field. The Boston catcher certainly got enough of it, but the ball hooked just foul. In other words, it was just a long strike.
Salty would eventually strike out for the second out, and Jonny Gomes followed suit by going down swinging.
The Red Sox are still without a hit in this one.
End 4th, Twins 3-0: Walks kill.
Ryan Dempster issued back-to-back walks to Ryan Doumit and Chris Parmelee to begin the inning, and it helped the Twins extend their lead.
After the two walks, Wilkin Ramirez grounded into a force out. Pedro Ciriaco went down to his knee to make a play, and he fired to second to get an out. That set up runners at the corners for Eduardo Escobar, who was responsible for driving in Minnesota’s first two runs via a two-run double back in the second inning.
Escobar again came through. He singled into right field, which scored Doumit with the Twins’ third run of the game.
Dempster escaped any further damage by getting a fly out and a ground out, but the way the Red Sox are swinging the bats in this one, a three-run deficit seems pretty daunting.
Mid 4th, Twins 2-0: The Red Sox haven’t been putting together quality at-bats in this one.
Casey Fien took over for Cole De Vries, who didn’t allow a hit in the first three innings, and he promptly struck out the side.
Fien struck out Jacoby Ellsbury swinging on a slider low and away.
Victorino then struck out, lowering his spring average to .171. The Flyin’ Hawaiian, of course, played in the World Baseball Classic, but it appears he’s still trying to shake off the rust.
Dustin Pedroia finished the inning by fanning as well.
End 3rd, Twins 2-0: Ryan Dempster put his second-inning struggles behind him and pitched a 1-2-3 third.
Dempster started off the inning with back-to-back strikeouts to Jamey Carroll and Brian Dozier.
Trevor Plouffe then put on a nice battle before Dempster got him to fly out.
The luckiest guy of the inning, though, may have been a Hammond Stadium lemonade vendor, who just missed getting hit by a Plouffe foul ball. That would have been an expensive strike.
Mid 3rd, Twins 2-0: Cole De Vries breezed through his first trip through the Red Sox’ order.
De Vries pitched another 1-2-3 inning in the third, and he’s faced the minimum nine hitters through three innings. The only baserunner he allowed came on a walk to Mike Napoli in the second inning, but he took care of that by inducing a double play.
In the third, Jonny Gomes grounded out to third base for the first out. Jackie Bradley Jr., who continues to be the most popular guy in Boston, then lined out to right field for the second out.
Pedro Ciriaco ended the inning with a fly out to left.
End 2nd, Twins 2-0: The second inning didn’t go quite as smoothly for Ryan Dempster.
Dempster, who pitched a 1-2-3 first, started off by striking out Ryan Doumit on a pitch in the dirt, but trouble then ensued.
Dempster missed with an inside curveball to walk Chris Parmelee, and Wilkin Ramirez followed up with a line-drive double down the left-field line. That put runners at second and third for Eduardo Escobar.
Escobar knocked in the game’s first two runs by poking a double over the head of left fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who was playing shallow.
Dempster minimized the damage by getting Daniel Ortiz to fly out to left-center and Pedro Florimon to ground out to short, but the two-run double is the difference in this game as the Red Sox come up to take their third cuts of the day.
1:29 p.m.: Quick note: Tigers ace Justin Verlander has agreed to a five-year contract extension through the 2019 season, with a vesting option for the 2020 season.
Verlander will earn $180 million over the next seven seasons, and the option is worth $22 million, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney. That means the deal is the richest ever given to a pitcher, and it could total $202 million.
Must be nice.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: Mike Napoli worked a leadoff walk, but it didn’t materialize into any threat.
After the free pass, Cole De Vries got Will Middlebrooks to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play. Middlebrooks has been swinging a hot bat this spring, so inducing the twin killing is no small feat.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia flew out to right field to end the inning.
End 1st, 0-0: Ryan Dempster started his day off with a 1-2-3 first inning as well.
Jamey Carroll led off for the Twins, and he hit a bouncer to the right side. Dustin Pedroia was able to range out into shallow right field to make the play, and he fired to first for out No. 1.
Dempster then came back and struck out Brian Dozier, before then getting Trevor Plouffe to fly out to center field to end the inning.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Nice first inning for Cole De Vries, who has been impressive this spring.
De Vries entered the game having allowed just one run and four hits in 14 innings, and he started off on the right foot in this one by enjoying an easy, 1-2-3 frame.
Jacoby Ellsbury led off by chopping one over the mound. De Vries may have nicked it with his glove, but it wasn’t enough to change the ball’s course. Brian Dozier made the play and fired to first for the first out.
Shane Victorino made the second out by popping up into foul territory. Catcher Ryan Doumit made the play about 10 steps up the third-base line.
Dustin Pedroia struck out swinging to end the inning.
1:08 p.m.: Cole De Vries’ first pitch is outside for a ball, and we’re under way…
1 p.m.: We’re about five minutes away from game time, but there are a couple of notes to pass along.
David Ortiz continues to take part in baseball activities without any setbacks, which is something manager John Farrell views as a positive. There’s still no timetable for the slugger’s return, though.
As far as Ryan Sweeney, it’s unclear whether the outfielder will accept an assignment to Triple-A Pawtucket. WEEI.com reported that Sweeney isn’t inclined to do so, meaning he’d seek work elsewhere, but nothing is official.
Sweeney has until midnight to decide whether or not to opt out of his contract. The Red Sox would then have 48 hours to decide whether or not to add him to the 25-man roster or allow him to walk as a free agent.
And for those who may have missed Thursday’s other transactions, Daniel Bard was optioned to Double-A Portland, Mauro Gomez and Brock Holt were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, and Stephen Drew was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list.
11:25 a.m.: The Red Sox’ roster is really starting to take shape, but the most important question remains unanswered. What is the club going to do with Jackie Bradley Jr.?
The decision regarding Bradley, who has ripped the Grapefruit League to shreds, has been well-documented, and we can debate the situation until we’re blue in the face. The Sox would be wise to make a decision — whatever it may be — relatively soon, though, as keeping the outfielder in limbo doesn’t exactly accomplish much.
With that said, I’d be very surprised if Bradley doesn’t start the season in the majors. Bradley, Mike Carp and Ryan Sweeney seemed to be battling for the final two roster spots, and the Red Sox opted not to offer Sweeney a major league contract on Thursday. Mike Carp has since made the team, so it seems logical to assume Bradley will man the final spot, although no official decision has been made.
The biggest thing that the Red Sox need to be sure of is that Bradley gets everyday at-bats. There’s no sense in bringing the 22-year-old up if he’s not going to play every day, especially since bringing him up already jeopardizes them losing a year of team control.
Bradley will be in the lineup on Friday. He’ll play left field and bat eighth.
The rest of Friday’s lineups are below.
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Mike Napoli, 1B
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Jonny Gomes, DH
Jackie Bradley Jr., LF
Pedro Ciriaco, SS
Ryan Dempster, P
Jamey Carroll, DH
Brian Dozier, 2B
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Ryan Doumit, C
Chris Parmelee, 1B
Wilkin Ramirez, CF
Eduardo Escobar, LF
Daniel Ortiz, RF
Pedro Florimon, SS
Cole De Vries, P
8 a.m. ET: What’s the sense in playing? The Red Sox are already Mayor’s Cup champs.
Boston secured its second straight Mayor Cup’s on Thursday night with a 6-1 victory over the Twins. The Sox still have two more games against their Fort Myers brethren to close out spring training, though, and it’ll be Ryan Dempster getting his final tune-up on Friday.
Dempster — like the rest of the Red Sox’ rotation — has been solid this spring. The right-hander enters Friday’s game with a 3.06 ERA (six earned runs in 17 2/3 innings). His last Grapefruit League start came on March 19, and he allowed three earned runs on six hits over five innings. Dempster took the hill during an intrasquad game on Sunday, and he allowed six runs on nine hits, although much of his struggles can be attributed to the extremely windy conditions at Fenway South.
Dempster will be followed on Friday by Junichi Tazawa and Clayton Mortensen. Manager John Farrell said that Mortensen is expected to start the season in the Red Sox’ bullpen, although that became apparent when Daniel Bard was optioned to Double-A Portland on Thursday.
Friday’s action at Hammond Stadium will start up at 1:05 p.m. ET. Be sure to keep it right here for commentary and analysis throughout the game.