Final, Twins 2-0: A day after scoring 12 runs and banging out 16 hits, the Red Sox couldn’t generate any offense. Five Twins pitchers combined to blank the Sox, and Minnesota improved to 8-6 in Grapefruit League action with a 2-0 win.
Boston was only able to produce five hits in the game, as Mike Pelfrey and Co. were in complete control throughout. The Red Sox’ best opportunity to score came in the first inning, when they loaded the bases for Will Middlebrooks, who put a charge into one. Fortunately for Minnesota, right fielder Joe Benson was able to make a lunging play to keep the Sox off the scoreboard.
The Twins’ offense was powered by a two-run third inning against Ryan Dempster. Dempster had been cruising to that point, but he then gave up four straight two-out hits, which led to two Minnesota runs.
All in all, Dempster was pretty solid aside from the third-inning trouble. He threw 66 pitches — 43 strikes — in 3 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits. Dempster struck out two and didn’t walk anyone in the losing effort.
Dempster was followed by Alex Wilson (1 1/3 innings), Anthony Carter (two innings) and Chris Hernandez (two innings). They all pitched well, but the Twins had already done enough damage offensively to secure the win.
The Red Sox will take the field again on Saturday. They’ll go up against the Orioles at JetBlue Park, starting at 7:05 p.m ET. That game will be televised on NESN, but you’re encouraged to also follow all of the action with NESN.com’s live blog.
Have a good night, everyone.
Mid 9th, Twins 2-0: Well, the Red Sox will need two runs in the ninth, as Chris Hernandez kept the Twins off the scoreboard in his second inning of work.
Brian Dinkelman hit a one-out single after Joe Benson flew out to right field to lead off the inning. James Beresford then grounded into a force out for the second out, and Clete Thomas ended any potential threat by popping out to short.
The Red Sox are expected to send Brock Holt, Christian Vazquez and Mauro Gomez to the plate in the ninth inning against Twins pitcher Tyler Roberston.
End 8th, Twins 2-0: If the Red Sox want to emerge victorious, they’ll have to do something in the ninth inning that they haven’t done all game: score.
Michael Tonkin pitched the eighth inning for Minnesota, and he followed in his predecessors’ footsteps in keeping the Red Sox off the scoreboard.
Pedro Ciriaco struck out swinging, and Jeremy Hazelbaker then grounded out to third base for two quick outs.
Mike Carp hit a two-out single in between first and second and into right field, but Mark Hamilton followed up by striking out.
Mid 8th, Twins 2-0: Now, after boring you with some WBC stuff, it’s back to Red Sox-Twins action.
Chris Hernandez took over for Boston in the eighth inning, and while he gave up a one-out single, he also kept the deficit at two runs.
Ray Olmedo struck out swinging to lead off the inning. The ball was in the dirt, so Christian Vazquez had to fire down to first to record the out.
Eric Fryer then provided the inning’s only hit, before Mark Sobolewski hit a little roller that Vazquez came out from behind the plate to field for the second out.
Fryer advanced to second on Sobolewski’s groundout, and then took third on a passed ball. Brandon Boggs threatened to drive him in by hitting a looping line drive into right field. Fortunately for the Sox, Jeremy Hazelbaker made a fantastic diving play.
9:31 p.m.: I just wanted to pass along an interesting note regarding James Beresford, who flashed some leather in the seventh.
Beresford, a native of Monash, Australia, actually played for Team Australia in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, and again joined the national team this season before eventually returning to the Twins.
For those of you keeping tabs on this year’s WBC, you probably already know that Team USA is in action against Team Mexico on Friday night. The tournament is, of course, a polarizing topic. Some fans love it, while others are rather skeptical.
I must admit that I’m in the latter camp. While I love the idea of the WBC, there are just too many other factors involved for me to get completely into the tournament.
I actually touched on the topic recently, and you can check that out at the link below.
My colleague, Zach Stoloff, is also a bit skeptical of the WBC, mostly because of the rosters. While there are plenty of big league All-Stars involved, the rosters are actually weak compared to what they could be. Check out more from Zach at the link below.
Like I said, though, the overall concept of the WBC is still intriguing, even if it isn’t quite as special as it could be. NESN.com is running a live blog of Team USA’s showdown with Mexico, so be sure to check that out.
End 7th, Twins 2-0: James Beresford took over at shortstop before the inning, and he immediately made sure a few more people will recognize his name after this one.
Christian Vazquez, who already showed off his great throwing arm in this game, hit a groundball up the middle that looked like a sure hit, but Beresford had other ideas. The Twins shortstop made a diving play in shallow center, popped up very quickly and then delivered a strike just in time to nail Vazquez at first base.
Lyle Overbay, who was one of Boston’s remaining starters, worked a walk, and was then lifted for a pinch runner in Mauro Gomez. With Gomez at first, Jose Iglesias hit one to short. Beresford fielded it cleanly and tossed it over to second for the force out, but Iglesias was able to beat the relay throw to avoid the double play.
Mitch Maier, batting for the first time, flew out to deep center field to end the inning.
Mid 7th, Twins 2-0: We’ve got ourselves a pitchers’ duel as we head into the seventh-inning stretch at JetBlue Park.
The Twins added their eighth hit of the night in the seventh inning, but four of those hits — and the two runs — came during a four-batter stretch in the third inning. Other than that, both offenses have been held in check, especially Boston’s.
Anthony Carter once again took the mound for the Red Sox in the seventh. He got Jeff Clement to fly out to center field, and then got Pedro Florimon to hit an easy chopper to short. Clete Thomas, batting for the first time, followed up with a base hit into right field, but Eduardo Escobar flew out to Mike Carp in left field to end the inning.
The Red Sox have made a number of substitutions in this one. Mitch Maier, Pedro Ciriaco, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Mike Carp, Mark Hamilton, Brock Holt and Christian Vazquez are in. Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Ryan Sweeney, Jonny Gomes, Daniel Nava, Will Middlebrooks and Ryan Lavarnway are out.
End 6th, Twins 2-0: Josh Roenicke was the new Twins hurler in the sixth, and he also kept Boston off the scoreboard.
Dustin Pedroia grounded out for the first out of the inning, and Roenicke struck out Ryan Sweeney swinging for the second out.
Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava made things a little bit more difficult, as they tried to get a little bingo going with two outs. Gomes smacked a base hit the other way, and Nava worked a walk to put runners at first and second.
Roenicke bounced back, though, and struck out Will Middlebrooks on a pitch low and away.
Mid 6th, Twins 2-0: Anthony Carter worked the sixth inning for Boston.
Carter gave up a leadoff, infield single to Trevor Plouffe. After Brandon Boggs flew out to left field for the first out, Plouffe was gunned down by the new catcher, Christian Vazquez, while trying to steal second base.
Carter ended the inning by getting Joe Benson to fly out to right field.
Vazquez continues to look very impressive behind the dish. He has shown a strong arm throughout this entire spring, and he caught Plouffe stealing by a mile. The throw was absolutely perfect.
Vazquez definitely entered this spring as the other guy, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Lavarnway and David Ross all in the catching mix. He’ll leave having caught the team’s attention.
End 5th, Twins 2-0: Brian Duensing has retired all six Red Sox hitter he’s faced.
Duensing kicked off the fifth by striking out Lyle Overbay, who continues to compete with Mike Carp for the role of backup first baseman.
Duensing then got Jose Iglesias to ground one to short. Pedro Florimon proved that Iglesias isn’t the only defensively gifted shortstop on the diamond, as he delivered a strong throw for the second out.
Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to second to end the inning.
As mentioned, Overbay and Carp are battling for the role of backup first baseman. The team’s starter, Mike Napoli, has really been turning heads thus far, though. Napoli’s hot spring was one of the topics addressed during Thursday’s NESN.com podcast. Have a listen at the link below.
Mid 5th, Twins 2-0: Alex Wilson took the hill again in the fifth, and he ensured the game stayed 2-0.
Aaron Hicks, who started Minnesota’s third-inning rally, gave Wilson’s offering a ride, but Jacoby Ellsbury hauled it in in center field for out No. 1.
Brian Dozier then earned a walk, but Wilson responded by retiring the next two hitters. Wilson struck out Josh Willingham looking, and then got Ryan Doumit to ground out on a soft chopper to Dustin Pedroia at second base.
End 4th, Twins 2-0: Brian Duensing relieved Mike Pelfrey after Pelfrey pitched three scoreless innings to begin the game. Duensing didn’t disappoint.
Daniel Nava, Will Middlebrooks and Ryan Lavarnway went down in order.
Nava and Lavarnway each grounded out to third, and Middlebrooks flew out to center.
Mid 4th, Twins 2-0: Ryan Dempster recorded the first two outs of the fourth, and then manager John Farrell went to the bullpen.
Dempster got Brandon Boggs to ground out to Dustin Pedroia at second base, and then got Joe Benson to fly out to his right-field counterpart for the second out.
Dempster was then taken out, having reached his pitch limit, and Alex Wilson took over. Wilson gave up a two-out double to Jeff Clement, but then got Pedro Florimon to ground out to second base for the inning’s final out.
All in all, it was another good outing for Dempster. He obviously had the hiccup in the third inning, during which he allowed two runs on four hits — all consecutive with two outs. Aside from that, though, he was once again very effective.
Dempster pitched 3 2/3 innings in total, allowing two earned runs on five hits. He struck out two and didn’t walk anyone. Dempster delivered 66 pitches, 43 of which were strikes.
End 3rd, Twins 2-0: Mike Pelfrey has settled down nicely since his rocky first inning.
Pelfrey struck out Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia to start the bottom of the third. He then gave up a single to Ryan Sweeney, who shot a two-strike offering into left-center field. Brandon Boggs slid in an attempt to make the catch, but it dropped just in front of him.
Ellsbury worked the count full in his at-bat before he went down looking. Ellsbury actually thought he had earned a free pass, but as he went to take his base, he learned the bad news. Ryan Doumit did a nice job of framing Pelfrey’s two-strike pitch to Ellsbury, as it clearly looked low and away.
After Sweeney’s two-out single, Jonny Gomes popped out to end the inning.
Mid 3rd, Twins 2-0: Ryan Dempster picked up two quick outs, and it looked as if another scoreless inning was in order. He ran into some two-out trouble, though, and the Twins have struck first.
Jeff Clement led off the inning, and he flew out harmlessly to center field. Pedro Florimon came up next, and he hit a groundball to short that the sure-handed Jose Iglesias handled easily.
That’s where the easiness stopped, though.
Aaron Hicks, who has been swinging a hot stick, doubled down the right-field line to get the offense rolling. Brian Dozier made sure Dempster paid for his mistake by lining a base hit into center field, which scored Hicks.
Josh “The Hammer” Willingham kept the inning going and forced Dempster to work even harder by following up Dozier’s RBI single with a base hit of his own. That put runners at first and second for Ryan Doumit, who beat the Red Sox’ shift by shooting a hit into left field. Doumit’s hit scored the speedy Dozier, who represented Minnesota’s second run.
Dempster finally got out of the inning by getting Trevor Plouffe to pop out into foul territory along the third-base line. But it wasn’t before the Twins connected on four straight two-out hits to take a 2-0 lead.
End 2nd, 0-0: Mike Pelfrey is just 10 months removed from Tommy John, but he looked sharp in the second inning.
Pelfrey struck out Ryan Lavarnway and Lyle Overbay to begin the frame, and got Jose Iglesias to fly out to right field to end the inning.
Ryan Dempster heads to the mound for a third inning of work.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: Ryan Dempster gave up a leadoff single, but it didn’t amount to anything, and the veteran has another scoreless inning under his belt.
Doumit led off the inning with a single down the right-field line, but Dempster then struck out Trevor Plouffe. With one out, Brandon Boggs chopped what was almost an inning-ending double play to short. Jose Iglesias did a good job of getting the ball out of his glove quickly, but Boggs was able to beat out Dustin Pedroia’s throw to first.
Will Middlebrooks then returned the favor to Joe Benson. Benson made a nice play in right field to rob Middlebrooks in the first inning. This time, it was Middlebrooks flashing the leather on a groundball to third.
The Red Sox will send the bottom third of the order to the plate in the home half of the second.
End 1st 0-0: The Red Sox were about a foot away from jumping out to an early lead. Instead, we’re still scoreless.
Jacoby Ellsbury got things going for the Boston offense by shooting a line drive into left-center field. He would move up to second two batters later, when Ryan Sweeney worked a one-out walk.
Mike Pelfrey, who underwent Tommy John surgery last May, then hurt himself. Jonny Gomes hit a ball back to Pelfrey. The right-hander made the play, and he quickly turned and fired to second base. The problem was that Sweeney got a great jump at first, and he beat out the throw, as did Gomes on the back end. The inability to record an out on the play loaded the bases.
Pelfrey bounced back to strike out Daniel Nava looking. Will Middlebrooks came up hacking, though, and he drove a ball deep into right field. It looked at first like it might leave the yard, or at least get up over the head of Joe Benson. Instead, Benson was able to make a lunging grab to end the inning and keep the game scoreless.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Ryan Dempster entered the game having thrown five scoreless innings this spring. He kept the streak going with an easy, 1-2-3 first.
Dempster first got Aaron Hicks to fly out to Jonny Gomes in left field, and he then struck out Brian Dozier. It looked as if Dempster wanted to go away with his pitch to Dozier, but it tailed back inside. The result was exactly what Dempster was hoping for, though, as Dozier whiffed on the pitch up and in.
Dempster ended the inning by getting Josh Willingham to pop out to Jose Iglesias at short.
Dempster can chalk the first inning up as a win for a number of reasons. Not only did he enjoy another easy, scoreless frame, but he retired Hicks, which hasn’t been an easy task for pitchers lately. Hicks blasted three home runs during Minnesota’s split-squad action on Thursday.
7:06 p.m.: The Red Sox and Twins have gotten things under way at JetBlue Park.
6:55 p.m.: The David Ortiz saga continues, with the slugger feeling soreness after running the bases on Thursday. Bobby Valentine had some nice things to say about Ortiz, though.
Not only does Valentine think Ortiz will be healthy to start the season, but the former Red Sox skipper also thinks Ortiz was the American League MVP last season before his season was derailed by an injury.
6:50 p.m.: We’re about 15 minutes away from the game’s first pitch.
Ryan Dempster will deliver that first pitch, and he’s scheduled to be followed by Chris Hernandez, Alex Wilson and Anthony Carter. The Twins are expected to counter with the combination of Mike Pelfrey, Brian Duensing, Josh Roenicke, Tyler Robertson, Michael Tonkin and Virgil Vasquez.
One guy who won’t be pitching for the Red Sox is prospect Drake Britton, who was optioned to Double-A Portland as part of the club’s first round of cuts. Britton, of course, was arrested for DUI over the weekend. The left-hander issued a statement, and it’s obvious he feels a great deal of regret.
5:48 p.m.: The Red Sox’ lineup has been posted. One player who won’t be in the starting nine is shortstop Stephen Drew.
Drew was hit in the head in the fourth inning by Twins pitcher Caleb Thielbar. Drew stayed in the game, and would eventually come around to score after taking his base, but the incident wasn’t without repercussions. As reported by NESN’s Jamie Erdahl, the Red Sox shortstop is battling “mild concussion-like symptoms,” and he’s been replaced in Friday’s lineup by Jose Iglesias as a result.
Drew signed a one-year, $9.5 million contract with the Red Sox this offseason, and he figures to be the team’s Opening Day shortstop. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that he’ll be able to quickly recover from this setback.
Will Middlebrooks, who had been the latest victim of “intestinal turmoil,” will be in Boston’s lineup. He’ll take his customary spot at third base.
The rest of Friday’s lineups are below.
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Ryan Sweeney, RF
Jonny Gomes, LF
Daniel Nava, 1B
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Lyle Overbay, DH
Jose Iglesias, SS
Ryan Dempster, P
Aaron Hicks, CF
Brian Dozier, 2B
Josh Willingham, DH
Ryan Doumit, C
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Brandon Boggs, LF
Joe Benson, RF
Jeff, Clement, 1B
Pedro Florimon, SS
Mike Pelfrey, P
8 a.m. ET: Ryan Dempster’s personality immediately fit right in, but it’s the right-hander’s spring training results thus far that should have Red Sox fans excited.
Dempster tossed two perfect innings against the Cardinals on Feb. 26 to kick off his spring, and he then pitched three one-hit innings against the Yankees on Sunday. It’s obviously still early, and we shouldn’t put too much stock into spring training results, but it’s hard to complain with the efficiency and aggressiveness he’s shown on the mound. And it’s that attack mode that manager John Farrell would like to see out of all of his pitchers.
Dempster will be the first one to toe the rubber when the Sox host the Twins at JetBlue Park on Friday. It’ll be the third meeting between the two teams, with Boston taking the first two, including a 12-5 rout at Hammond Stadium on Thursday.
Fortunately, Friday night’s action will air live on NESN. Dempster’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET. Be sure to tune in, both on the ol’ TV and here at NESN.com. I’ll do my best to provide additional commentary and analysis throughout the evening.