Postgame, Red Sox 6-0: In advance of the wildest two days the spring has seen, the Sox get a nice, relaxing day at the park. Tim Wakefield tosses five scoreless innings, Kevin Youkilis goes deep and Boston makes its latest spring meeting with Baltimore look a lot like the ones these teams have in the regular season.
A few postgame notes:
Daisuke Matsuzaka's minor league game is set for 11 a.m. tomorrow and we will be there to check it out and provide an analysis.
The Sox have made a few minor roster moves. Promising left hander Felix Doubront and catcher Mark Wagner were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket and infielder Gil Velazquez was reassigned to the minor league camp. Doubront will still pitch in the major league game Sunday against Toronto up in Dunedin.
Reliever Joe Nelson said he feels as good as he has in 16 months after tossing a scoreless frame to finish this one out. He said none of the bullpen candidates already in camp are conceding anything to Alan Embree, but acknowledged that the team brought in a proven guy and doesn't blame the organization for giving itself as many options as possible.
I never acknowledged it as it occured while we were in the press conference with Tim Wakefield, but Marco Scutaro hit his first home run of the spring not long after I pointed out his ugly Grapefruit League numbers. You can thank me for getting your shortstop going.
We will be staying home when the Sox split up tomorrow and focusing on the game here at City of Palms Park against Houston. The Astros-Red Sox matchup will be televised on NESN and I'll be providing my own insight right here so be sure to check it out.
Red Sox 6-0, Final: Joe Nelson, another guy with work to do now that Alan Embree has crowded the competition for bullpen spots, allows the first two to reach in the ninth before shutting things down.
The Red Sox break a five-game losing streak behind Tim Wakefield's five scoreless innings and improve to 9-8 this spring.
Tomorrow is the first of two straight days with a pair of split-squad games, the busiest Grapefruit League stretch for the Sox. They will be here at City of Palms Park to host Houston while half the crew will head to Dunedin to face Toronto.
End 8th, Red Sox 6-0: Three more outs and the losing streak is over!
The Sox add another three runs in the eighth to leave Joe Nelson with a four-run lead entering the ninth. The big hit is a two-run single for Pete Hissey, who spent 109 games at Single-A Greenville last season.
A slightly scary moment came in the eighth when Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon nailed Boston infielder Ray Chang with a pitch in the head.
It appeared to be just a breaking ball and only glanced off Chang's helmet but after walking to first under his own power Chang appeared to be suffering some effects and was removed from the game. He did walk off on his own.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 3-0: Fernando Cabrera comes on to keep the Sox' shutout effort alive here.
Cabrera had 22 saves for Pawtucket last year and could be seen in Fenway a few times this season.
End 7th, Red Sox 3-0: While we were away, Brian Shouse — who has to be thinking about a few things with fellow lefty Alan Embree in camp – worked a scoreless frame and the Sox tacked on another run.
Meanwhile, Tim Wakefield looked and sounded about as confident as one can be at this stage of spring training.
He just told us that he's ready to go for the start of the regular season, has nothing he really needs to work on and "absolutely" expects to be in the starting rotation come April.
Wakefield will throw six innings or so in his next start before scaling it back for one more appearance and then heading north.
2:41 p.m.: We are off to hear from Tim Wakefield. Be back with some words from the knuckleballer.
End 6th, Red Sox 2-0: Dustin Pedroia and Victor Martinez record back-to-back singles to start the sixth, but their pinch runners are left right there as former Boston pitcher Cla Meredith wiggles out of trouble.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 2-0: A lot of eyes have been on Manny Delcarmen this spring as he tries to rebound from an injury-plagued campaign.
Delcarmen works around a one-out walk in this one and has now allowed a run in five innings this spring.
To finalize the line on Wakefield:
5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 WP.
He threw 65 pitches, 39 for strikes.
End 5th, Red Sox 2-0: Not to get you all in a panic here, but the newly acquired left side of the infield for the Red Sox is now a combined 6-for-41.
Adrian Beltre and Marco Scutaro have just one extra base hit and one RBI between them.
I'm just sayin'.
Manny Delcarmen is on in relief of Tim Wakefield.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-0: Tim Wakefield has not only lived longer than any other Red Sox pitcher, but he's now the first to pitch five innings this spring.
Not a bad five innings at that.
Wakefield has allowed two hits a pair of walks while striking out three. Manny Delcarmen, Joe Nelson and Fernando Cabrera are also scheduled to get some work and that should begin next inning.
End 4th, Red Sox 2-0: There were sarcastic whispers of Chris Tillman tossing a no-hitter after he got through the first three without allowing a hit.
Such sarcasm was laid to rest when Dustin Pedroia led off with a double and Kevin Youkilis followed with his first home run of the spring, a drive over the wall in left.
Pedroia is batting .345 this spring.
The Red Sox fail to capitalize on a one-out walk to David Ortiz but the Sox have the lead and Tim Wakefield is on for his fifth inning of work.
Mid 4th, 0-0: A little bit of fortune gets Tim Wakefield through another quick inning.
Lou Montanez led off with a walk and one out later Jeff Salazar ripped one toward Kevin Youkilis at first base. All Youk needed to do was raise his arm a bit, catch it, and then touch the bag for an easy inning-ending double play.
End 3rd, 0-0: The third inning gives us an unusual play that gets Adrian Beltre on after a strikeout and wild pitch.
You don't see that occur very often but this one was made more odd by Beltre's reaction. When the ball rolled past catcher Craig Tatum, Beltre remained in the box and held his left hand up as if to hold the runner at first.
Problem is, Beltre was the first man up in the inning and unless Casper was on first and only Beltre could see the friendly ghost, he was waving at nobody. Eventually, Beltre realized the situation and raced to beat the throw from Tatum, who picked the ball up at the backstop.
After all that, Beltre was stranded.
Chris Tillman has yet to allow a hit.
Mid 3rd, 0-0: Victor Martinez threw out just 11 percent of runners with the Red Sox last season and we all know the issues with baserunners which can arise when Tim Wakefield is on the mound.
Blake Davis singles with one out and and then promptly steals second, although it was close.
Davis moved up on a wild pitch before Wakefield got out of it when Kevin Youkilis made a nice catch in foul territory.
Wakefield said he is working on a slide step to the plate with runners on. There was no directive from the coaches on this, but the veteran said he is constantly working on ways to limit the running game.
End 2nd, 0-0: Chris Tillman had had a couple of shaky outings of late but he's making quick work of the Red Sox.
Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz and J.D. Drew each ground out. Ortiz's grounder was scooped up by shortstop Blake Davis about 20 feet to the right of second base as the O's employed the usual shift.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: Tim Wakefield barely finishes his warm-ups before getting to go sit down after retiring the Orioles in rapid fashion.
One of the outs was a pop to right that J.D. Drew had to race to catch up to. Either he though Dustin Pedroia would catch it or the wind knocked it down.
End 1st, 0-0: In his first at-bat since Tuesday, Jacoby Ellsbury gives it a little ride to deep center, but it is easily tracked down by Jeff Salazar.
There is a good breeze blowing from right to left.
The Red Sox go 1-2-3 against Chris Tillman.
Mid 1st, 0-0: A little bit of a better beginning for Tim Wakefield this time around against the Orioles.
He strikes out leadoff man Robert Andino and gets a ground out to third off the bat of Justin Turner before Lou Montanez singles.
No worries. Garrett Atkins flails at a diving knuckler for the third out.
First pitch temperature was 72 degrees and there are just a few fluffy clouds up above. A beautiful day in Fort Myers.
12:45 p.m.: There is a sense among the Sox that Saturday's meeting with Baltimore is a little bit like the calm before the storm.
Due to a rain-out earlier this spring, Boston will play two split-squad games on Sunday AND Monday. Throw in the fact that Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey are scheduled to throw at the minor league camp those days and you have an incredibly busy start to the week.
"It's gotten hard right now," manager Terry Francona said. "Our extra guys we don't have 'em — the Darnell McDonalds, Jed Lowrie, Gil [Velazquez], so we're kinda scrambling…We've got to get through the next two days."
Out of necessity, a slew of minor leaguers will travel to Jupiter on Monday for the game against St. Louis. Francona said the Cardinals are aware of the situation.
Francona added that Lowrie, who has mono, has barely resumed any activity whatsoever, certainly nothing of the baseball variety. He doesn't appear to be in the mix for some time going forward.
"There's just not much going on right now [with Lowrie]," he said. "The hard thing is you don't know how much of a setback it will cause because you're not doing much and when he comes back you wonder will it take a toll."
10:25 a.m.: Terry Francona discussed several matters in his morning media session. Naturally, Alan Embree was at the forefront of the discussion, and the skipper had some nice things to say.
"He got healthy. He's kept himself in great shape. Guys that get some mileage under them, it's not always easy to do that…He throws free and easy, always not afraid to attack the zone."
Embree did race by on his way to a quick workout and appeared to be in excellent shape.
We will have more on the signing and what it means to the Sox in a separate piece on the site.
Also, here are the Orioles lineup against Tim Wakefield:
Robert Andino, 3B
Justin Turner, 2B
Lou Montanez, LF
Garrett Atkins, 1B
Jeff Salazar, CF
Josh Bell, DH
Craig Tatum, C
Miguel Abreu, RF
Blake Davis, SS
8:59 a.m.: By now you've all been informed of the Alan Embree news, so while that sinks in up in Boston, here is the Sox' starting lineup for the game against Baltimore:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Victor Martinez, C
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
J.D. Drew, RF
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Bill Hall, LF
Marco Scutaro, SS
It's a lineup you may see from time to time this season. Ellsbury will be in left field and Mike Cameron in center more often, but this is a group heavy on regulars.
We will have more regarding the reaction to Embree's signing in a bit after meeting with manager Terry Francona and maybe Embree himself.
8:00 a.m.: Tim Wakefield makes his fourth appearance of the spring when the Red Sox return home to host the Baltimore Orioles at City of Palms Park.
It is a 1:05 p.m. affair and it will be televised on NESN.
Wakefield was a bit shaky in his last outing Monday, also against the Orioles. He gave up five runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings, including a home run to Luke Scott.
Jacoby Ellsbury is expected to be back in the Boston lineup after a few days off to battle the bug which is going through the clubhouse.
Chris Tillman will start for Baltimore.
The Sox have lost five straight Grapefruit League games to see their spring training record even up at 8-8.
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