Postgame, Astros 10-7: So on a day that the Sox were prepared to play at least 18 innings in two cities, they don’t even get in eight in one.
A few notes from the postgame:
“I texted Ron and told him he could pick [the ball] up on the way home,” Francona quipped.
Monday is another busy day. Boof Bonser will start at City of Palms Park against Tampa Bay at 1:05, a game we will follow right here. Michael Bowden gets a start against St. Louis in Jupiter. And John Lackey will throw in a minor league game at the camp down the road.
By the way, the tarp remains in right field at City of Palms Park and the uncovered infield, which is in use first thing tomorrow morning, resembles a river. The grounds crew simply gave up and I’m unsure how that will affect the conditions Monday.
4:23: The game has officially been called. The Astros have defeated the Red Sox 10-7, with 7 1/2 innings played.
The split-squad game against Toronto has been canceled as well.
3:58: We have seen some memorable mishaps over the years with tarps and we are being treated to a good one here at City of Palms Park.
They still have not put the tarp on as the rains just soaks the infield. The fans are providing sarcastic cheers and applause with each painful foot they move the thing.
3:52: After a bolt of lightning seemingly lands in left field and a clap of thunder comes at the exact same time, players, coaches and umpires run for their lives. We are in a rain delay.
Mid 8th, Astros 10-7: We have lightning. We have thunder. We have fans heading for the exits. But I have yet to see a single drop of rain.
When it comes it will be a doozy, for sure.
In the meantime, Daniel Bard stays on top of his game with a perfect frame.
End 7th, Astros 10-7: Daniel Bard, who has been electric this spring, is on for the Sox after they go down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh.
Mid 7th, Astros 10-7: Well, the roof caved in while we were away hearing from Jon Lester.
Upon returning to the press box there was just one out in the inning and six runs already on the board. At that moment, Michael Garciaparra, who accounted for that first out, made the second one when he struck out facing Ramon Ramirez.
The ugly line for Jonathan Papelbon:
1/3 inning, 5 hits, 6 runs, 5 earned runs, 1 walk, 1 hit batter.
3:21 p.m.: There’s another Garciaparra sighting at City of Palms Park. This time it is Michael, Nomar’s little bro.
He grounds to, where else, shortstop to lead things off against Jonathan Papelbon.
But Papelbon lets one get away moments later and hits Humberto Quintero squarely in the back. Kevin Cash, another guy with Red Sox ties, follows with a double.
I’ll fill in the rest later as Jon Lester is about to meet with the media.
End 6th, Red Sox 7-4: As it gets darker and darker here in Fort Myers, the Sox tack on two on an RBI double by Dustin Pedroia and a sacrifice fly by Kevin Youkilis.
Pedroia has four RBI.
Jonathan Papelbon is on for the Sox.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 5-4: Chris Johnson, son of Sox first baseman Ron Johnson, hammers a Hideki Okajima offering over the wall in left.
Okajima really struggled against righties last season and Johnson, who bats from that side, was not fooled one bit.
2:58 p.m.: Jon Lester sees one batter in the sixth and strikes him out swinging. Hideki Okajima has been called upon to take his place.
Lester goes 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits. Most importantly, he did not walk a batter and struck out seven.
Through his first few outings Lester had walked five and struck out seven.
End 5th, Red Sox 5-3: It is getting increasingly dark here in Fort Myers and rain seems imminent.
Meanwhile, Mike Cameron continues to put on a show. He doubles before being removed for a pinch runner, finishing 2-for-2 with home run and a walk.
And to my surprise (I don’t count very well) Jon Lester is out for some more work.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 5-3: Assuming his day is done, Jon Lester’s latest start ends in fine fashion as he retires eight of the last nine men he faces.
Lester, who has spoken out about the maple bats which seemingly shatter a few times every game, just had to avoid the barrel of one that had splintered into several pieces.
In case I neglected to mention it earlier, the other Sox split-squad game today was rained out. Half the team was up in Dunedin. Good thing I didn’t make that trip.
End 4th, Red Sox 5-3: Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz go down in order.
Jon Lester is out for a fifth inning of work.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 5-3: Jon Lester gave up two doubles, a single and a home run between the first and third innings. He has retired the side in the second and fourth.
Lester likes even numbers today. He’ll likely have one more inning before we see the likes of Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima and Daniel Bard.
End 3rd, Red Sox 5-3: A middle-aged man with a bushy red mustache, a beer in his right hand and a Dee Brown jersey on just strolled past along the aisles here at City of Palms Park. Just a classic image.
Also, the Sox left the bases full when Jacoby Ellsbury strikes out looking. Boston has seven hits and four walks in the first three innings.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 5-3: The ball is soaring out to left and Kazuo Matsui is the latest to take advantage.
Following an infield single, Matsui takes Jon Lester deep for his second home run of the spring.
End 2nd, Red Sox 5-1: Mike Cameron and Dustin Pedroia have both very quietly enjoyed quality springs at the plate. Both just made a ton of noise in the second.
Cameron slugged a two-run shot off Bud Norris to get the Sox on the board and improve to 8-for-22 (.364) with five walks, tied for tops on the team. It was his first home run in a Red Sox uniform.
After a walk to Jeremy Hermida and a single by Jacoby Ellsbury, Pedroia parked one over the fence in left for his first of the spring. A double by Kevin Youkilis chased Norris, who threw 42 pitches — 22 for strikes — in the second inning alone.
Mid 2nd, Astros 1-0: If memory serves correctly, Mike Lowell never saw one chance in his first few stints at first base, aside from a few throws across the diamond from other infielders.
He has yet to get a grounder in his debut at third base, but there was a dribbler up the line that he waited on to roll foul in the second.
Jacoby Ellsbury made a fine running catch on a drive to left to help Jon Lester out.
End 1st, Astros 1-0: Jacoby Ellsbury gets just his fifth hit of the spring and moves to third on a wild pitch and throwing error on catcher Jason Castro.
With Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz coming up, a run seemed a sure thing. But the vaunted trio failed to even put the ball into fair territory. Pedroia and Ortiz struck out. Youkilis popped to Castro behind the plate.
Mid 1st, Astros 1-0: Spring has been a bit shaky for Jon Lester and a good start would serve him well, but he struggles a bit out of the gate.
After fanning Jason Bourgeois to start the game, Kazuo Matsui and Geoff Blum roped back-to-back doubles. Blum’s shot just barely sailed over the glove of center fielder Mike Cameron.
Lester fought back to strike out Chris Johnson, son of Red Sox first base coach Ron Johnson, but he has now allowed six earned runs in 8 2/3 innings this spring.
12:19 p.m.: Just back from the Sox’ minor league camp, where Daisuke Matsuzaka had no issues in retiring seven of eight men he faced in an intrasquad scrimmage.
Matsuzaka tossed 32 pitches and reached as high as 91 mph on the radar gun. He is scheduled for a bullpen session in a couple of days and will likely come on in relief of Tim Wakefield on Friday against Toronto.
Look for more on Matsuzaka on the site.
The weather was nice during the scrimmage but there are some dark clouds coming in and, as usual, the wind is really whipping. Storms are supposed to hit the area in a couple of hours.
9:00 a.m.: We are off to watch Daisuke Matsuzaka throw a pair of innings at the Red Sox Player Development Complex later this morning, but first here are the starting lineups for the Sox’ two split-squad games:
Astros vs. Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Jason Varitek, C
Mike Lowell, 3B
Mike Cameron, CF
Jeremy Hermida, RF
Marco Scutaro, SS
Red Sox at Blue Jays
Bill Hall, LF
Josh Reddick, CF
J.D. Drew, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Tug Hulett, 2B
Jose Iglesias, SS
Aaron Bates, 1B
Mark Wagner, C
Che-Shuan Lin, RF
We will be following the Astros game right here, which as you can see has most of the regulars in it. Keep your eyes peeled for updates from City of Palms Park and a report on Matsuzaka in a few hours.
8:00 a.m.: Jon Lester will be in search of the dominant form which has escaped him early on when he starts against the Houston Astros at City of Palms Park.
NESN will carry all the action for you live, and we will offer our analysis of the game right here, beginning well before the 1:05 p.m. start.
Through three Grapefruit League starts, Lester has allowed six runs — five earned — in 7 2/3 innings. Most notable are his five walks in that span.
Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, Daniel Bard and Ramon Ramirez are also expected to get some action on the mound for the Red Sox, who have a split squad playing in Dunedin against Toronto at the same time.
The game marks the return to Fort Myers for Brad Mills, the former Boston bench coach and now the Astros manager.
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