The stakes were much lower on Thursday
night when the Boston Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 2-1 on Mark
Wagner's tiebreaking single in the eight in the spring training opener
for both teams.
Still, both right-handers, who led
their teams in innings pitched last season, were happy with their
Beckett has been working on keeping
the ball low.
"I felt like I kept the ball down
well," he said. "I got five ground balls and then [allowed] two hits,
one of them a line drive and the other one a ground ball. So things that
we've been working on the last two weeks, I'm getting there."
Beckett, who went 17-6 in the regular
season before his 4-1 loss in Game 2 against the Los Angeles Angels,
gave up two hits and a run before getting his second out. Denard Span
led off the game with a single, took second on a groundout and scored on
Jason Kubel's single.
Then Beckett got Michael Cuddyer to
hit to new shortstop Marco Scutaro, who started a double play. In the
second, Beckett retired the side in order on two grounders and a
"That was a great double play, a 3-1
pitch," Beckett said. "That's the pitch I've been talking about since
day one of spring training. You don't have to make the perfect pitch.
You make a decent pitch and the guys behind you pick you up.
"I didn't make a great pitch on
Cuddyer, but Cuddyer hit it where [Scutaro] could go get the ball and
turn a really nice double play."
Blackburn went 11-11 for the second
straight year last season then started in the division series when the
New York Yankees won 4-3 in 11 innings. On Thursday, he gave up just a
single to Dustin Pedroia and allowed only one of the seven batters he
faced to hit the ball out of the infield.
"I got to throw some changeups in
there, got some bad swings on it," Blackburn said. "That's a plus for
me. That's been kind of a challenge the last couple of years to get a
slow enough changeup to where we can get some guys out in front of it
and a lot of ground balls."
The Red Sox managed just two hits
through five innings before Pedroia's single scored Darnell McDonald
with the tying run. McDonald had pinch run for Dusty Brown, who doubled.
Boston scored the decisive run off
loser Jose Lugo when Josh Reddick started the right with a double, took
third on McDonald's sacrifice and scored on Wagner's single. Wagner, a
catcher who joined the Red Sox system in 2005, has yet to play in the
majors and is ticketed for the minors again barring an injury to Victor
Martinez or Jason Varitek.
Scott Atchison, who pitched a perfect
eighth and is in the mix for the final spot in the Boston bullpen, got
Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect
third in his first game since blowing Game 3 of the division series,
giving Los Angeles a 3-0 sweep. Leading 6-4, he allowed three runs in
the ninth and the Angels won 7-6.
Thursday was different.
"I thought our pitching did a real
good job today," Boston manager Terry Francona said.
The Twins had four hits, all
singles. … The teams meets again on Friday in the Twins' ballpark,
also in Fort Myers. … Pedroia and Reddick each had two of the Red Sox'