Postgame, Red Sox 6-3: It did not take long for us to get word that David Ortiz will sit Thursday when the Sox and Twins meet again.
With lefty Francisco Liriano on the mound and Ortiz still infatuated with striking out (13 in 26 at bats), it is no surprise that Mike Lowell will get his first start at designated hitter.
The rest of the lineup will probably be the same, with a possibility that Bill Hall will play left instead of Jeremy Hermida (if Jacoby Ellsbury is still out). We will give you all of those updates when we get them from Target Field. First pitch is 1:10 p.m.
Final, Red Sox 6-3: Jonathan Papelbon walks the leadoff man to get the crowd at Target Field going (a lot of "Ya betchas") and walks another with two down to bring the tying run to the plate. But a fly to J.D. Drew ends it and Papelbon is able to finish off win No. 4 of the season for the Sox.
It's the first win in a Boston uniform for John Lackey, who went 6 2/3 strong innings.
We have more day baseball Thursday. Same time. Same place. Tim Wakefield will be on the mound for the Sox against Twins lefty Francisco Liriano.
Mid 9th, Red Sox 6-3: The Sox get a single in the ninth off the bat of Victor Martinez, but he nearly gets thrown out at first by right fielder Michael Cuddyer. Martinez just barely avoided some ridicule in the clubhouse by sliding into first ahead of the throw.
That was the highlight of the inning before David Ortiz doubled to left with two outs. Martinez moved to third on the hit but the two speed demons were left right there.
End 8th, Red Sox 6-3: The Twins get one back on Michael Cuddyer's home run off Daniel Bard, but they then strand another runner at second.
Bard also gave up a long foul and a double off the wall in right that was really struck. He has given up a run in two of his last three outings.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 6-2: The Jeremy Hermida acquisition was met with a rather lukewarm response in Boston. Eh. Fourth outfielder. Yet, all he has done since joining the team is hit, and his bases-clearing double in the top of the eighth is one of biggest hits of the young year for the Sox.
Hermida was in a great situation there. Bases loaded and a 2-1 count. He knew Jesse Crain would be coming in with something in the zone. The double gives Hermida six RBIs in just 14 at bats.
End 7th, Red Sox 3-2: Hideki Okajima does his job, but not without a few scares. First, a Victor Martinez passed ball moves the runners up 90 feet. Then, after Joe Mauer is put on, Justin Morneau's pop is falling toward the earth with nobody under it. Finally, Adrian Beltre races in to make a basket catch and preserve the lead.
3:36 p.m.: There are two on and two outs in the seventh with Joe Mauer coming to the plate. Time to get John Lackey out of there. Hideki Okajima is coming on.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 3-2: I'm no expert on mechanics, but it seems as if Pat Neshek would need surgery after every outing with the way he throws. It appears to be all arm, and the gyrations he goes through before every pitch are painful enough.
But the results are usually good (when he's healthy). Neshek gets through two innings unscathed. He needed 11 pitches to strike out Dustin Pedroia for the second out of the seventh.
End 6th, Red Sox 3-2: John Lackey works around a one-out single in the sixth. He has retired eight of the last nine Twins.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 3-2: This one figures to become a battle of the bullpens, which does not bode well for the Sox. Minnesota's relievers have allowed just four runs in 22 2/3 innings this year. They have struck out 15 and walked only two.
One of those free passes is issued to Mike Cameron with two outs in the sixth. He is left right there when Jeremy Hermida grounds out.
End 5th, Red Sox 3-2: The rain stops and so do John Lackey's struggles. He has his first 1-2-3 inning in the fifth, the last out coming on a grounder by Lackey killer Joe Mauer.
At 77 pitches, Lackey has a good chance to go seven.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 3-2: The first home run by an opponent in Target Field goes to Dustin Pedroia, who is now the fifth American League player to have four on the season. If I'm not mistaken, all four have been crushed down the left-field line.
Pedroia is also the first Red Sox player to reach 10 RBIs.
Kevin Slowey had been in a groove before the blast. But he follows it up by allowing a single to Victor Martinez and a walk to Kevin Youkilis. Even though he gets David Ortiz to pop to shallow left to end it, Slowey has thrown over 100 pitches and should be done for the day.
End 4th, 2-2: This is really the first time we've seen John Lackey struggle at all in a Red Sox uniform. His spring was so effortless and the opener against the Yankees as good as you can expect.
The Twins have had eight base runners through four innings. Two double plays helped Lackey early and he strands a pair in the fourth.
Mid 4th, 2-2: J.D. Drew and Mike Cameron are strikeout victims in a perfect fourth for Kevin Slowey. They have combined to whiff in 16 of 45 at-bats.
End 3rd, 2-2: John Lackey wiggled out of trouble the first two innings, but cannot in the third as the rain intensifies at Target Field.
Following a leadoff double by Delmon Young, Lackey gets his glove on a grounder up the middle, which shortstop Marco Scutaro then picks up in stride to nail the runner at first.
But a two-out walk puts runners on the corners and Orlando Hudson and Joe Mauer follow with consecutive RBI singles.
Those are the first two runs Lackey has allowed in a Red Sox uniform.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: You can add a caught stealing to David Ortiz's ugly stat line. He takes off on a 1-2 pitch to Adrian Beltre and is easy pickings for Joe Mauer. Ortiz had reached with a two-out walk.
Moments earlier, cheers were heard in Target Field as the fans there feel rain during a baseball game for the first time since 1981. Some of the fans ran for the exits, no doubt unsure what this wet stuff was falling from the sky.
End 2nd, Red Sox 2-0: There's some nice defense for you. The Sox get an over-the-shoulder grab by Dustin Pedroia and then a 3-6 double play to help John Lackey work around a leadoff single.
Boston has turned a double play in both frames and is one of four teams in the AL with double digits in that category.
Mid 2nd, Red Sox 2-0: We gave Marco Scutaro some love in an earlier post, and he backs up our boast with a two-out RBI single in the second.
The Sox had been 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position before the hit, which drove in J.D. Drew from third.
We're not advocating moving Scutaro to the leadoff spot for good, but it's a luxury to have a replacement who scored 100 runs from that spot last year.
Scutaro is now hitting .364.
End 1st, Red Sox 1-0: John Lackey walked one man in 20 innings down in Florida this spring. He has issued three free passes in seven frames during the regular season.
However, a base on balls to start the first is quickly erased by a 1-6-3 double play. Joe Mauer grounds to short for the final out.
Mid 1st, Red Sox 1-0: The Red Sox would be well served to dump as many balls to left as they can. Delmon Young is a train wreck out there.
David Ortiz's double the other day could've been caught by Young, and the Twins left fielder misplays a liner by Dustin Pedroia into a run-scoring double in the first. What seems obvious to the naked eye is also supported by raw data; among 56 AL left fielders who played at least 50 innings at the position in 2009, Young ranked last in the trendy UZR ratings, a defensive metric system.
Marco Scutaro singled ahead of Pedroia's double. Scutaro has started both games at Target Field with singles and has gone 26 plate appearances without a strikeout, tops in the American League.
Not a bad number for a leadoff man, even if he's there by default. Scutaro has also drawn three walks. By contrast, Jacoby Ellsbury has struck out five times and has yet to draw a walk in 30 plate appearances.
With runners on the corners and one out in the first, David Ortiz swung through an 87-mph fastball for the third strike. He has fanned an AL-leading 12 times in 23 at bats.
1 p.m.: It's never shocking to see Joe Mauer have good numbers against any pitcher, but it's always worth noting. The AL MVP is 9-for-20 (.450) with two home runs against John Lackey. Michael Cuddyer has also hurt the Red Sox righty, going 5-for-16 (.313) with three homers.
12:34 p.m.: Terry Francona said before the game that he doesn't see Jacoby Ellsbury returning until the homestand, which begins Friday against Tampa Bay.
Francona said that Ellsbury is having trouble "rotating," which can present obvious problems for someone up there hacking away four or five times a game. And he is hacking — Ellsbury and Adrian Beltre are the only regulars without a walk this season.
As for Thursday's game against lefty Francisco Liriano, Francona will have decisions to make, some of which are sure to keep New Englanders on the edge of their seats. He may go with Mike Lowell at DH, but Jeremy Hermida has been the Ellsbury replacement and he is not the same hitter against southpaws (.239 lifetime). Perhaps we will see Bill Hall in left.
It's interesting what happens when you have a deep bench. There are multiple options to replace injured or struggling players, but because they exist, people want to make changes all the time. It could make for a long year of second-guessing, as evidenced by the Ortiz-Lowell situation.
11:45 a.m.: Marco Scutaro will bat leadoff for the second straight game as Jacoby Ellsbury remains sidelined with a bruised rib. Here are the lineups for both teams:
Marco Scutaro SS
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Victor Martinez C
Kevin Youkilis 1B
David Ortiz DH
Adrian Beltre 3B
J.D. Drew RF
Mike Cameron CF
Jeremy Hermida LF
Denard Span CF
Orlando Hudson 2B
Joe Mauer C
Justin Morneau 1B
Michael Cuddyer RF
Jason Kubel DH
Delmon Young LF
J.J Hardy SS
Nick Punto 3B
Minnesota has left hander Francisco Liriano on the mound Thursday in the series finale. You may see Mike Lowell get his first action at designated hitter in that one.
8 a.m.: John Lackey will make his second start for the Red Sox in the second game at Target Field as Boston and Minnesota get together for an afternoon tilt.
Lackey followed up a dominant spring training with six scoreless innings in his Boston debut, a 3-1 loss to the New York Yankees.
He will be facing a Twins lineup that has hit just .210 against right-handers this year, compared to .330 vs. lefties. Southpaw Jon Lester found that out the hard way Monday, giving up four runs on nine hits in five innings in a 5-2 loss to Minnesota.
The setback dropped the Red Sox to 10-20 in the city of Minneapolis since 2001.
First pitch is set for 1:10 p.m.
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