Red Sox Live Blog: John Lackey Shines as Sox Top Twins 9-3

Red Sox Live Blog: John Lackey Shines as Sox Top Twins 9-3 Postgame, Red Sox 9-3: A day after seeing Jon Lester struggle out of the gate and two days after Josh Beckett gives up an early run, the third member of the Red Sox’ collection of aces has better results.

John Lackey set down all six Twins he faced in his debut with Boston, setting the tone for an easy Red Sox win.

Lackey has had injuries each of his last two springs which have delayed the starts of both seasons for the big righty. He said after this one that he feels good about where he is both mentally and physically this spring.

Boston is back at it tomorrow at 1:05 p.m., taking on Baltimore in Sarasota. Clay Buchholz will get the start in a game which will also feature Daniel Bard and top pitching prospect Casey Kelly.

Red Sox 9-3, Final: Junichi Tazawa finishes things off to pick up a two-inning save and help bump the Red Sox to 2-1 this spring (pending the outcome of the other split-squad game taking place against Tampa Bay).

Despite allowing two runs in the seventh, Joe Nelson gets credit for the win.

Tug Hulett is the offensive star with a go-ahead three-run homer in the seventh. Gil Velazquez chips in a pair of RBI.

End 8th, Red Sox 9-3: The Sox add some insurance against Jose Lugo and look poised to take the always critical third game of the Mayor’s Cup series.

Boston loaded the bases with no outs on a single, an error and a walk against Lugo, who struck out Jason Place but then walked Gustavo Molina to force in a run.

Nate Spears came in on the walk. Jeremy Hazelbaker scored later on a sacrifice fly and Tug Hulett made it a three-run inning when he touched home on a single.

Each member of that trio has scored two runs in as many innings.

3:52 p.m.: An update on Twins closer Joe Nathan from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, who left his outing with some soreness after facing just three batters.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 6-3: After six runs are scored between the teams in the seventh, Junichi Tazawa comes in from the Red Sox bullpen to settle things down.

Tazawa was working for the first time since Wednesday against Boston College. Factoring in that outing, the Japanese import has set down all six men he has faced this spring.

The wind helped a bit in the eighth, however, as one long drive was caught near the wall.

No other Red Sox pitchers were scheduled to throw in this one, so the ninth should go to Tazawa.

End 7th, Red Sox 6-3: Tug Hulett has designs on being a key member of the Red Sox’ bench this season. He just boosted his resume in a big way.

Hulett slugs a three-run homer in his first at-bat of the spring, following up singles by Nate Spears and Jeremy Hazelbaker with a drive off Jeff Manship.

The 27-year-old Hulett has one career major league home run. It came in 2008 while he was with Seattle.

Gustavo Molina and Aaron Bates added singles later in the frame and Gil Velazquez chipped in one more — Boston’s sixth hit of the inning — to drive in another run.

Mid 7th, Twins 3-2: When you are in a position such as the one Joe Nelson finds himself in, the margin for error is slim.

Nelson did not help himself out in making a good impression with the club as he is hit hard and is all over the zone in the seventh.

It could’ve been much worse except that the inning ended on a double play which saw Jacque Jones thrown out at home attempting to score on a fly ball.

Prior to that, Nelson loaded the bases and gave up the tying run on a single to Danny Valencia. A Nelson delivery moments later to catcher Jair Fernandez sailed back to the screen, allowing the go-ahead run to come in on a wild pitch.

A pretty ugly frame for the 35-year-old Nelson.

End 6th, Red Sox 2-1: Jeff Manship follows up Jose Mijares with another perfect inning for the Twins.

Manship is a candidate to start the season in the minors but has a taste of the bigs. He was 1-1 with a 5.68 ERA in 11 games for Minnesota last year.

Joe Nelson is now on for the Sox. He’ll be throwing to catcher Tim Federowicz.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 2-1: An error by second baseman Angel Sanchez and a double by Wilson Ramos gets the Twins on the board against Brian Shouse.

Center fielder Matt Sheely, who seemingly had some issues a few innings ago with the sun, saw Ramos’s drive go over his head.

Shouse rebounds and fans the last two hitters to strand a man.

End 5th, Red Sox 2-0: The Sox go 1-2-3 in the fifth against Jose Mijares. We may see Manny Delcarmen get another crack after a pretty quick fifth. Otherwise it will be Brian Shouse.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-0: Manny Delcarmen gets his first action since working a scoreless inning against Northeastern the other day and sets down the Twins in order.

There were some issues with the sun on a few fly balls in the frame but no harm done.

End 4th, Red Sox 2-0: The Sox end a string of 12 straight scoreless innings against the Twins when the bottom of the order knocks around Glen Perkins.

Luis Exposito doubled to start it off. Aaron Bates had an infield single on which Exposito had to hold, but the Sox got runners on the corners when Angel Sanchez flew to right, advancing Exposito.

The game’s first run then came in on a hard single by Gil Velazquez. Bates scored on Mike Cameron’s sacrifice fly.

Boston loaded up the bases again with two outs on consecutive walks to Bill Hall and Jeremy Hazelbaker (batting for J.D. Drew). Perkins got David Ortiz on a tapper in front of the plate to escape any further trouble.

The Sox have stranded eight runners already. They are winning both of their split-squad games by the same score at this moment.

Mid 4th, 0-0: Michael Bowden gets a second inning of work and it’s a clean one.

Working through the heart of the Twins’ order, he strikes out Orlando Hudson looking and retires J.J. Hardy and Justin Morneau.

If you want to count a perfect frame against Boston College on Wednesday, Bowden has three scoreless innings to his credit thus far this spring.

End 3rd, 0-0: Glen Perkins comes on to get the last two outs and strand a pair of runners who got on via walks.

While Twins fans hold their breath on the condition of closer Joe Nathan, we offer up this little tidbit:

This is not meant to indicate that the concerns over the Red Sox’ offense are legit, but they have scored exactly two runs in 20 innings against the Twins this spring. It means nothing, just one of those spring training quirks, especially since the other half of the team scored two in the first inning against Tampa Bay this afternoon.

1:56 p.m.: Joe Nathan gets a surprise inning of work for the Twins and it doesn’t go well. After walking a pair of batters with one out the Minnesota trainer visits the mound and the team’s closer is pulled.

Nathan underwent surgery in October to remove bone chips in his elbow. Not a good sign early in the spring to see him leave the mound to get checked out. We will update you if we hear any more on Nathan’s condition.

Mid 3rd, 0-0: Just to sum up John Lackey’s debut, he retired all six men he faced and struck out one. He looked strong in pumping a fastball past Ben Revere and handcuffed J.J. Hardy in the first.

A quality beginning for the Sox’ newest starter.

Michael Bowden comes on and allows the Twins’ first hit of the game, a single by Ben Harris with one out.

Harris later moved to second base on a passed ball by Luis Exposito but was stranded when Exposito redeemed himself with a nice grab of a foul pop off the bat of Revere.

End 2nd, 0-0: The bottom third of the Red Sox’ lineup goes down easy as Francisco Liriano begins to really sling it.

Aaron Bates and Angel Sanchez strike out and Gil Velazquez hits a hard shot that Orlando Hudson hauls in and throws to first.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: John Lackey gets through the first two innings so quickly that it almost begs for a third inning of work, but we will likely see Michael Bowden next time the Twins come up.

Lackey gets Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel to fly to center fielder Mike Cameron. Delmon Young grounds to second on a 3-2 offering.

End 1st, 0-0: The fate of the Twins may rest in the left arm of their starter in this one, Francisco Liriano. He reportedly rediscovered a missing fastball in the Dominican League and there are whispers he can return to the form which saw him go 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA in 2006.

For now he’s through one inning, but not without a sweat. He allowed a leadoff single to Mike Cameron, hit J.D. Drew with a pitch one out later and then walked Jeremy Hermida to load the bases with two down.

Catcher Luis Exposito grounded into a force to end the threat.

Liriano, who had a 5.80 ERA in 29 games (24 starts) last year, did strike out Bill Hall and got David Ortiz to pop to center. 

Mid 1st, 0-0: John Lackey’s first frame as a member of the Red Sox is a breeze.

After striking out leadoff man Ben Revere on three pitches, using a rising fastball to finish him off, Lackey induces a pair of easy ground balls.

He’ll be back out for another inning of work. Mike Cameron will lead it off for the Sox.

12:22 p.m.: It’s a beautiful day in Fort Myers as the Red Sox and Twins get set for their third Grapefruit League meeting in as many days.

The starting lineup for the Sox is as follows:

Mike Cameron — CF
Bill Hall — 3B
J.D. Drew — RF
David Ortiz — DH
Jeremy Hermida — LF
Luis Exposito — C
Aaron Bates — 1B
Angel Sanchez — SS
Gil Velazquez — 2B

John Lackey will be followed on the mound by Michael Bowden, Manny Delcarmen, Brian Shouse, Joe Nelson and Junichi Tazawa. Bench coach DeMarlo Hale is at the helm, with Terry Francona managing the other half in Port Charlotte.

Minnesota gives the ball to Francisco Liriano, followed by Jeff Manship, Glen Perkins, Jesse Crain, Jose Mijares and Kyle Waldrop.

The Twins starting lineup:

Ben Revere — CF
Orlando Hudson — 2B
J.J. Hardy — SS
Justin Morneau — 1B
Jason Kubel — RF
Delmon Young — LF
Jacque Jones — DH
Brendan Harris — 3B
Wilson Ramos — C

9:37 a.m.: John Lackey will make his Red Sox debut in a split-squad game against the Minnesota Twins, hoping for a better result than teammate Jon Lester had in his opener Friday.

The 31-year-old Lackey will take the mound at City of Palms Park, and we will follow the action right here. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

It marks the third straight game between the Mayor’s Cup rivals. The Twins got to Lester for four runs in an inning-plus in a 5-0 win, knotting the seven-game spring series at a game apiece.

Lackey, signed this offseason to a five-year, $82.5 million deal, will be throwing to prime catching prospect Luis Exposito. The Sox’ entire projected starting infield and manager Terry Francona will be traveling to Port Charlotte to take on Tampa Bay at the same time.

The Sox and Twins have split the first two contests. Boston has won eight straight Grapefruit League games at home, its longest spring winning streak since 1979.

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