Red Sox Live Blog: Twins Make Things Interesting in Ninth, But Sox Hold On for 9-7 Win

by NESN Staff

March 30, 2012

Red Sox Live Blog: Twins Make Things Interesting in Ninth, But Sox Hold On for 9-7 Win

Final, Red Sox 9-7: Mark Melancon didn't exactly get hit hard in the ninth inning, but he did give up a couple of runs to give the Sox a scare.

The right-hander was able to weather the storm of a couple of softly hit balls that found holes to slam the door and give the Sox a win.

Mid 9th, Red Sox 9-5: The Red Sox grabbed another run in the top of the ninth inning to give them a little more breathing room. 

Ryan Dent delivered an RBI single bringing around Jason Repko who began the inning with a leadoff walk.

End 8th, Red Sox 8-5: Mark Melancon comes in and does his job to get out of the inning.

He was able to induce a groundout to make sure the Boston lead stays intact, but the Twins are trying to make it interesting, trailing 8-5 heading into the ninth.

Bottom 8th, Red Sox 8-5: Matt Albers worked a scoreless seventh, but his eighth frame was a disastrous one. 

The right-hander issued three hits and was tagged by Estarlin De Los Santos for a two-run home run before getting the hook from Bobby Valentine.

Mark Melancon is called on with the bases loaded and two outs to try and put out the fire.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 8-3: At times this spring, Mauro Gomez has displayed the power swing that helped him hit nearly 70 home runs in his last three years in the minors.

He just showed it off again.

This time, it was a two-run homer to left that helped cap a three-run eighth for the Sox, and they've blown it open, leading 8-3.

End 7th, Red Sox 5-3: Some wholesale changes for the Sox in the bottom half of the seventh, including on the mound.

Matt Albers took over for Daniel Bard, and he was able to put up a scoreless frame to keep it a two-run lead for Boston.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 5-3: Pedro Ciriaco and Jason Repko have each continued to impress. And they did so in the same sequence.

Repko laid down a picture-perfect bunt down the third base line that moved Ciriaco — who was at second — to third base.

Once Ciriaco got to third, he noticed the Twins second baseman wasn't focused on him and he surged and slid home to add in a run.

Bottom 6th, Red Sox 4-3: It looked like Daniel Bard just got tired. He started the inning by tossing five straight balls — leading to a walk.

Bard has done well against everyone except Joe Mauer, who touched him up with his second straight hit and knocked in a run.

After surrendering another walk to Josh Willingham, Bard allowed Sean Burroughs to hit an RBI single. It looks like Bard ran out of gas.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 4-1: Someone stop the fire, Cody Ross' bat is blazing right now.

He took Twins pitcher Jeff Gray yard — oh yes, back over the left field wall — for another two-run homer.

Hard to argue with him platooning with anyone right now. He's earned the time to shine and it really bodes well for the regular season.

Bottom 5th, Red Sox 2-1: Daniel Bard is making his case to start. He is straight dealing, guys.

He fanned Luke Hughes on a blazing 96 mph fastball and strikes out Michael Hollimon on a – gasp – changeup.

He's made an effort to use the changeup since Valentine called him out on it and it looks good. He's struck out seven batters through five frames.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-1: Almost a cringing type of moment for the Red Sox. It appeared Jacoby Ellsbury fouled a ball off his foot.

The outfielder was limping and trying to shake it off for about a minute or two and wound up striking out in the at-bat.

He was pulled from the game after in favor of Jason Repko. I'll give you guys more details when we hear it.

Bottom 4th, Red Sox 2-1: All the Jose Iglesias lovers, Mike Aviles just made a statement to you guys.

Josh Willingham hammered a line drive and Aviles dove to his right to snag the ball for an out. It was definitely one of the top Red Sox defensive plays this spring.

From Dustin Pedroia to Bobby Valentine, team personnel have said that Aviles' defense is underrated. I agreed with Valentine's decision to give Aviles a shot over Iglesias in this week's podcast.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-1: Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Cody Ross would flew out to start the inning.

But Ryan Sweeney kept taking baby steps at the plate, slicing a single in his second at-bat of the afternoon.

Mike Aviles grounded into a force to end the inning. But hey, the shortstop got a hit earlier to keep his average afloat over .300.

Bottom 3rd, Red Sox 2-1: Daniel Bard is stepping up to the bell, throwing 46 pitches and allowing just one hit.

He struck out two more batters in that inning.

His one hit led to a hiccup in the first inning, but he's bounced back well as he vies for that last spot in the rotation.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 2-1: David Ortiz hammered a single that moved Dustin Pedroia all the way to third base.

But the Sox couldn't capitalize as Kevin Youkilis grounded in a force at second.

Also, for your information, Saturday's game against the Rays will feature mostly minor leaguers and backups. Here is Valentine's explanation.

"Everybody got what they needed and what they wanted," Valentine said. "The team that I?ve seen on this field this spring, I have no problem not bringing my regulars. None. Everybody has, in their mind, what they want to finish the spring with and for instance, Adrian [Gonzalez] is going to get a bunch of at-bats today, he just wanted them. So he?s going to go around to a bunch of different games over there until his heart is content. A couple of other guys will do that tomorrow. Anybody who needs days off completely are allowed to take them."

Bottom 2nd, Red Sox 2-1: Much better for Daniel Bard. He started off striking out Sean Burroughs and forced Luke Hughes to ground out to third base. He also finished off Trevor Plouffe with a slider.

He's been mixing his pitches, which has been the goal in mind for him.

Bard's velocity has been good, hitting the 94-96 mph range on the radar gun. No walks is always positive for him, considering Valentine said the free passes were concerning.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 2-1: Cody Ross is on fire this spring training. He blasted his fifth home run of the spring, sending it over the left field wall.

It sailed out so high, Twins left fielder Josh Willingham didn't even bother looking back at it.

If Ross keeps up this pace, he's going to feast on the Green Monster. Each of his five homers, he's pulled to left field.

Bottom 1st, Twins 1-0: Daniel Bard starts off the afternoon by surrendering a run in the first inning.

After walking Joe Mauer, he surrendered an RBI double to Justin Morneau. Morneau managed to advance to third as Mauer scored.

Bobby Valentine said earlier today he viewed Bard as a starter, but still wouldn't commit just yet. Let's see how Bard continues as his skipper evaluates.

Mid 1st, 0-0: Jacoby Ellsbury led off the first inning with a single. He still doesn't have any round-trippers, but that's not the focus for some of these guys right now.

After Dustin Pedroia struck out, David Ortiz grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

11 a.m.: Here are the lineups.

Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Cody Ross, LF
Ryan Sweeney, RF
Mike Aviles, SS
Nick Punto, 1B
Daniel Bard, P

Twins
Denard Span, CF
Brian Dozier, SS
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, DH
Josh Willingham, LF
Sean Burroughs, 3B
Luke Hughes, 1B
Trevor Plouffe, RF
Michael Hollimon, 2B
Nick Blackburn, P

8 a.m. ET — It's a very crucial start for Daniel Bard. After a roller coaster spring training — and the shining starts from pitchers Felix Doubront and Alfredo Aceves on Thursday — the pressure is on the 26-year-old to hold the fort against the Twins and solidify his spot in the Red Sox' rotation. He yielded five runs and walked three batters in his previous outing against the Blue Jays, but the right-hander took solace in the fact he felt like a starter for the first time in the spring.

Since it's the last meeting between the Fort Myers' neighbors, the Mayor's Cup is on the line. The series between the Red Sox and Twins is deadlocked at two apiece this spring and keep in mind that Minnesota came away victorious last season. The game will take place at Hammond Stadium at 1 p.m. on Friday afternoon.

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