Red Sox-Twins Live: Ryan Dempster Tosses Four Solid Frames As Sox Jump Out Early, Cruise to 7-3 Win

Will MiddlebrooksFinal, Red Sox 7-3: The Twins brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but the Red Sox eventually locked up the 7-3 victory.

Wilkin Ramirez led off the inning with a double, and two batters later, Jeff Clement walked. Joe Benson then worked the count full against Terry Doyle, before he was retired on a loud flyout.

Benson’s flyout ended Doyle’s outing, as manager John Farrell turned to Marco Duarte, who walked the first batter he faced. That loaded the bases for Clete Thomas, who ended the game with a little looper to Brock Holt at short.

Ryan Dempster started this one for Boston, and he was once again solid. The righty allowed one run on three hits in four innings of work. He struck out three and walked two while throwing 73 pitches (43 strikes). The only run Dempster surrendered came on an opposite-field home run by Chris Parmelee.

The Red Sox put up five runs in the first two innings, including four in the second inning, which was highlighted by Will Middlebrooks’ bases-clearing double. Jacoby Ellsbury reached base three times — 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs and an RBI — before exiting.

In addition to Dempster, the Red Sox rolled out a combination of Koji Uehara, Daniel Bard, Terry Doyle and Marco Duarte in relief, with Doyle going the longest at 2 2/3 innings.

The Twins won’t have to wait long to get their mitts on the Red Sox again. The two teams will go toe-to-toe on Friday night in the second game of Boston’s split-squad day.

The Red Sox’ first game against the Orioles in Sarasota on Friday will kick off at 1:05 p.m. ET. The Sox will then play the Twins at JetBlue Park at 7:05 p.m. ET.

The second game on Friday will be televised live on NESN, so be sure to tune in. But also don’t hesitate to follow both games on NESN.com.

That’ll do it for this game. If you have any baseball-related chatter you want to get off your chest, feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@TheRickyDoyle) or drop a question in my mailbag by clicking here.

Mid 9th, Red Sox 7-3: Alex Burnett allowed the first two Boston hitters to reach in the ninth, before enjoying a big double play. The Sox still pushed across a run, though, and now hold a 7-3 edge going into the bottom of the inning.

After Jonathan Diaz doubled and Mauro Gomez walked, Pedro Ciriaco grounded into a twin killing that had the potential to end Boston’s threat. Mike Carp ensured the Red Sox got at least one, though, as he hammered a base hit into right field that scored Gomez with Boston’s seventh run.

Terry Doyle will come on for his third inning of work with a win very much in Boston’s grasp.

End 8th, Red Sox 6-3: The Twins aren’t going away quietly.

Jeff Clement and Joe Benson kicked off the eighth inning with back-to-back singles, and a fielding error by Pedro Ciriaco at third base loaded the bags for the Twins.

Eric Fryer couldn’t do any damage, as he flew out to Jackie Bradley Jr. in center, but Pedro Florimon gave the Twins their second run by dropping a flyball in front of Ryan Sweeney in right.

Terry Doyle nearly got out of the inning one batter later, when Ray Olmedo hit a groundball to short. Brock Holt bobbled the ball momentarily, though, and rather than an inning-ending double play, the Sox could only record one out. That allowed another run to come home for Minnesota.

Doyle ended the inning by getting Jamey Carroll to pop out behind short.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 6-1: The Red Sox got back on the scoreboard for the first time since the second inning in the eighth.

After Ryan Lavarnway led off with a flyout to right, Brock Holt doubled and Jackie Bradley Jr. flew out to left.

With Holt on second base and two outs in the inning, Mitch Maier popped one up behind second base. Second baseman Jamey Carroll went out and right fielder Brian Dinkelman came in, but neither player was able to make a play.

The ball dropped in the outfield, and although Carroll was able to pick it up and throw to second to get Maier, Holt already scored to give Boston a 6-1 edge.

End 7th, Red Sox 5-1: Terry Doyle has struggled here and there, but the overall product he’s put out this spring has been pretty good.

Doyle, who went at least two innings in all four of his Grapefruit League appearances before this game, pitched a scoreless seventh inning, and Boston’s lead is still 5-1.

Doyle struck out Ray Olmedo looking to start off the seventh. He then got Jamey Carroll to ground out, before Wilkin Ramirez squandered a perfect inning by lining a base hit into left field.

Brandon Boggs tried to build on Ramirez’s single, but Mauro Gomez made a nice stop down at first base that led to the final out of the inning.

Doyle entered the game having allowed five runs (three earned) on 11 hits and one walk in 9 1/3 innings. He also struck out eight hitters in those games.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 5-1: It’s time for the all-important seventh-inning stretch at Hammond Stadium, and the Red Sox still hold a 5-1 lead.

Jared Burton came on to pitch the seventh for Minnesota, and he promptly struck out Mauro Gomez.

Pedro Ciriaco fared better. He singled into center field to try and get things going with one out, but it didn’t lead to much.

Mike Carp batted for Lyle Overbay. He threatened to put two runs on the board, but his big-fly bid fell just short, and Wilkin Ramirez hauled it in on the warning track for the second out.

Ryan Sweeney grounded out to first base to end the inning.

Terry Doyle will come on to pitch for Boston in the seventh after back-to-back scoreless innings by Koji Uehara and Daniel Bard.

End 6th, Red Sox 5-1: The Twins got two aboard against Daniel Bard in the sixth, but he pitched around the runners to hold the Twins scoreless.

Chris Parmelee, whose fourth-inning home run is Minnesota’s only run to this point, walked to lead off the inning. Joe Benson then advanced him to second base on a single into right field.

That was the extent of the Twins’ threat, though.

Bard struck out Oswaldo Arcia, and then got Eric Fryer and Pedro Florimon to fly out and ground out, respectively.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 5-1: Ryan Pressly put together another nice, 1-2-3 inning in the sixth.

Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to second base, marking the first time he’s been retired in this game. Ellsbury had been 2-for-2 with two runs, an RBI and a walk before Pressly got the best of him.

Daniel Nava, who reached base twice in his three previous plate appearances, flew out to left field for the second out. Dustin Pedroia ended the inning with a groundout.

Daniel Bard will take over in the bottom of the sixth.

The Red Sox have also made a whole bunch of substitutions. Jackie Bradley Jr., Mitch Maier, Jonathan Diaz, Mauro Gomez, Pedro Ciriaco, Ryan Sweeney, Brock Holt and Ryan Lavarnway are in. Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Nava, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli, Will Middlebrooks, Jonny Gomes, Jose Iglesias and David Ross are out.

End 5th, Red Sox 5-1: Koji Uehara didn’t allow a baserunner in his first five Grapefruit League appearances. He allowed three in the fifth inning, which put the tying run at the plate for Minnesota.

After Eric Fryer grounded out, Pedro Florimon dropped down a bunt. Uehara gave chase, as did Ryan Lavarnway from behind the plate, but Florimon proved to be too fast, and he reached with a one-out hit.

Uehara walked Ray Olmedo before striking out Jamey Carroll. Josh Willingham then put up a spirited battle against Uehara before he too worked a walk, thus loading the bases for Justin Morneau.

Morneau is certainly a guy you want up in that situation if you’re Minnesota, as he’s shown an ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark throughout his major league career. Uehara escaped the jam, though, by getting Morneau to pop out to Dustin Pedroia at second base.

Prior to the outing, Uehara, as mentioned, was flawless in his five previous Grapefruit League appearances. The veteran righty, who was inked to a one-year deal this offseason, struck out five and didn’t walk a hitter in those games.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 5-1: Ryan Pressly, an 11th-round pick of the Red Sox in 2011, worked the fifth inning for the Twins, and his impressive spring training continues.

Jonny Gomes flew out, and Pressly then struck out David Ross swinging. Jose Iglesias again got a good piece of one, but his line drive was right at Ray Olmedo at third base for the inning’s final out.

Pressly was selected by the Twins in the Rule 5 draft in December. That means Pressly must be on the Twins’ roster for all of this season, or they could offer him back to the Red Sox for half of the $50,000 they paid Boston to draft him. The two teams could also work out a trade, which would allow the Twins to send Pressly to the minors.

Pressly spent his 2012 season split between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland. The right-hander struggled a bit at High-A, but he went 2-2 with a 2.93 ERA in 14 relief appearances with the Sea Dogs.

End 4th, Red Sox 5-1: Ryan Dempster appeared to be in cruise control, but Chris Parmelee struck to give the Twins their first run of the game.

After Josh Willingham popped out to second base and Justin Morneau grounded out to short, Parmelee put a charge into Dempster’s offering, sending it the other way. Parmelee’s opposite-field shot landed just beyond the fence, and Minnesota’s deficit has been cut to four.

The home run not only cut into Boston’s lead, though. It also forced Dempster to work a bit more.

Joe Benson ran the count full against Dempster before earning a two-out walk. He then took second base when Dempster threw the ball away while attempting a pickoff.

Dempster came back to strike out Oswaldo Arcia to end the inning.

That’ll be the afternoon for Dempster, who threw 73 pitches (43 strikes). He’ll exit after four innings of work, having allowed just one run on three hits and two walks. He struck out three.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 5-0: The fourth inning was a much more efficient one for Tim Wood.

Wood retired Mike Napoli, Will Middlebrooks and Lyle Overbay in order — all in the same manner. Each hitter grounded out to Pedro Florimon at short, with the infielder’s best play coming on Overbay’s bouncer up the middle beyond the second base bag.

End 3rd, Red Sox 5-0: Ryan Dempster put together a solid third inning.

Pedro Florimon hit a harmless flare into shallow center field that Jacoby Ellsbury hauled in for the first out.

Ray Olmedo, looking to throw Dempster out of his rhythm, dropped down a bunt. Dempster didn’t sweat it, though, and he made the play and fired to first for the second out.

Jamey Carroll then took a page out Florimon’s book, hitting a lazy flyball to center field to end the inning.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 5-0: Tim Wood’s first inning of work didn’t start out the way he had hoped, but the righty managed to keep Boston off the scoreboard for the first time in this game.

Jonny Gomes ripped one off the wall in left field, but was held to a long single. David Ross then walked to set up runners at first and second for Jose Iglesias, who looks to be making some strides at the plate this spring.

Iglesias hammered Wood’s offering right back where it came from, but the ball ricocheted off Wood’s leg and over to Chris Parmelee at first base. Parmelee stepped on the bag as Gomes and Ross advanced.

With two on and one out, Jacoby Ellsbury worked a walk to load the bases for the third consecutive inning. Daniel Nava was the first to take his cuts with the bases juiced, but he hit a lazy flyball to center field that wasn’t deep enough for Gomes to tag up and score.

Dustin Pedroia then hit a hot smash to second base. Jamey Carroll was able to knock the ball down and had to hurry to throw out Pedroia, but his toss to first was in time to get Minnesota out of the jam.

The Red Sox have had the bases loaded in all three innings thus far, so while they appear to be in control, this one really could have gotten out of hand early.

End 2nd, Red Sox 5-0: Ryan Dempster quickly retired Justin Morneau via a groundout, but the right-hander found himself in some trouble after that.

Dempster issued a one-out walk to Chris Parmelee, and Joe Benson doubled to left field to put runners at second and third. Fortunately for Dempster, he settled down nicely, and was able to strike out both Oswaldo Arcia and Eric Fryer to end the threat.

Jonny Gomes, David Ross and Jose Iglesias are expected for Boston in the third.

Tim Wood will replace Mike Pelfrey, who struggled mightily in his two innings work. Pelfrey allowed five runs on six hits and three walks. He threw 58 pitches, and his fastball sat at around 88-89 mph. It wasn’t all that encouraging, although Pelfrey is still battling his way back from Tommy John surgery.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 5-0: Mike Pelfrey shut down the Red Sox’ offense last Friday night. No such luck this time around.

Pelfrey tossed three scoreless innings and allowed just two hits while striking out five in Minnesota’s win over Boston on March 8, but he endured his fair share of struggles in this one.

David Ross flew out to begin the inning, but Jose Iglesias and Jacoby Ellsbury struck back-to-back doubles to plate Boston’s second run of the game.

It only got more difficult from there for Pelfrey, who seemed to grow frustrated throughout the inning. Daniel Nava and Dustin Pedroia each worked a walk to load the bases for the Red Sox for the second straight inning.

Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson visited the mound with the bases packed, but he decided against a pitching change, and instead left Pelfrey in the game to face the hot-hitting Mike Napoli and Will Middlebrooks. The moved paid off at first, with Pelfrey striking out Napoli following a 10-pitch battle, but Middlebrooks ensured the Sox came away with more than just the one run.

Middlebrooks laced a double off the wall in left. It cleared the bases, and extended the Red Sox’ lead to 5-0.

Middlebrooks’ shot likely would have left the ballpark on most days, but with the wind blowing in, the Boston third baseman was held to a two-bagger. Still works, though.

End 1st, Red Sox 1-0: Jamey Carroll provided a one-out single, but the Red Sox turned an inning-ending double play to keep the 1-0 lead intact after one inning of afternoon baseball.

Ray Olmedo grounded out, and Carroll followed up with his single, but Ryan Dempster was able to get Josh Willingham to ground into a 6-4-3 twin killing.

Nice first frame for Dempster.

Mid 1st, Red Sox 1-0: The Red Sox have struck first, but it could’ve been worse for the Twins. Boston looked poised for a big inning before settling for a run.

Jacoby Ellsbury led things off by hitting a little chopper to the right side of the mound. Mike Pelfrey came off the hill to field it, but he stumbled a little bit. By the time he was able to flip the ball over to first, the speedy Ellsbury was in safely.

Daniel Nava, batting out of the two hole, delivered a base hit through the right side that sent Ellsbury from first to third.

After Dustin Pedroia struck out, Mike Napoli continued his hot spring by delivering a single that scored Ellsbury. Napoli went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI in Tuesday’s win. He leads the club this spring with two home runs and now seven RBIs.

Lyle Overbay walked after Will Middlebrooks flew out. That loaded the bases with two down, but Jonny Gomes ended the inning the same way Boston started it: with a groundball back to the mound. This time, however, Pelfrey was able to make the play, and the Twins escaped the first only down a run.

1:05 p.m.: We’re ready for action. It’s Round 4 of the eight-round Mayor’s Cup rumble…

12:55 p.m.: We’re about 10 minutes away from the game’s first pitch.

For those of you who will still have an appetite for baseball even after this game concludes, be sure to check out Thursday’s USA-Dominican Republic World Baseball Classic showdown. That game will start up at 7 p.m. ET.

Speaking of the WBC, Alfredo Aceves returned to Fenway South on Wednesday after playing — and fighting — for Team Mexico. It’ll be interesting to see what role Aceves plays for the Sox going forward, but he’ll certainly become a much more important component if relievers Craig Breslow and Franklin Morales remain sidelined.

For those expecting Aceves to be released, think again. General manager Ben Cherington reportedly responded with “No, wouldn’t expect that,” when asked via text whether the Sox were considering cutting Aceves.

Click here to read more about Aceves’ future >>

Aceves, of course, wasn’t the only Red Sox player to participate in the WBC. Xander Bogaerts, playing for Netherlands (who clinched a spot in the semifinals), is 5-for-19 with two doubles, an RBI and three walks in seven tournament games. Shane Victorino, playing for USA, is 1-for-6 with an RBI in two WBC games. Jose De La Torre held Italy scoreless in two thirds of an inning on Wednesday night.

11:45 a.m.: I have another interesting tidbit to pass along regarding someone who is no longer in Boston. Terry Francona, now the manager of the Indians, has been receiving plenty of praise from his new group of players.

Jason Giambi –who figures to someday be a big league manager himself — called Francona a “dream manager,” and he said that he always wanted to play for Tito.

Click here to read Giambi’s comments >>

11:35 a.m.: It’s always fun to keep up on former Red Sox farmhands, but it’s never fun to hear about a promising, young player battling injury problems.

That’s exactly the case out in San Diego, though. Casey Kelly, one of the prospects dealt to the Padres in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez before the 2011 season, has been battling elbow soreness. He underwent tests, and the results reportedly weren’t good. It now looks like Kelly might have to undergo Tommy John surgery.

Click here to read more about Kelly’s injury >>

11:05 a.m.: The Red Sox’ lineup card has been posted.

It looks like Daniel Nava will slide into the two spot, splitting leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury and No. 3 hitter Dustin Pedroia. Nava will get the call in left field, while Jonny Gomes will shift over to right field.

Lyle Overbay will serve as the team’s designated hitter. These next couple of weeks will be important for Overbay and some others, including Mike Carp, Ryan Lavarnway, Mauro Gomez and Nava. If David Ortiz is forced to miss time to begin the season (which appears likely), manager John Farrell will need to get creative, and one or more of those guys could find themselves garnering some playing time.

The rest of Thursday’s lineups are below.

Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury,CF
Daniel Nava, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Mike Napoli, 1B
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Lyle Overbay, DH
Jonny Gomes, RF
David Ross, C
Jose Iglesias, SS

Ryan Dempster, P

Twins
Ray Olmedo, 3B
Jamey Carroll, 2B
Josh Willingham, LF
Justin Morneau, DH
Chris Parmelee, 1B
Joe Benson, CF
Oswaldo Arcia, RF
Eric Fryer, C
Pedro Florimon, SS

Mike Pelfrey, P

8 a.m. ET: We’re about to reach the halfway point of the 2013 Mayor’s Cup battle.

The Red Sox will head over to Hammond Stadium on Thursday to take on the Twins in the fourth of eight spring contests between the two clubs. Boston picked up wins in the first two matchups, but Minnesota walked away from the third meeting with a 2-0 victory.

Ryan Dempster will get the start for the Sox. He’s put together a nice spring thus far, allowing just two runs on six hits in 8 2/3 innings. He has struck out six and has yet to yield a walk, showing that he intends to be aggressive, just as manager John Farrell would prefer.

The only two runs Dempster has surrendered in his three spring outings actually came against the Twins. The right-hander worked 3 2/3 innings against Minnesota last Friday, and gave up the two runs on five hits. He suffered the loss in that game, as the Red Sox’ offense was held scoreless while only compiling five hits.

Terry Doyle, Koji Uehara and Daniel Bard are also expected to take the hill for the Red Sox.

Thursday’s game is scheduled to start up at 1:05 p.m. ET. The action won’t be televised, but NESN.com will have you covered every pitch of the way, so check back early and often.

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