Final, Red Sox 8-3: This one's in the books. The Red Sox open up Grapefruit League action with a victory over the Twins.
It was a tight contest throughout until Boston opened things up in the seventh inning. Che-Hsuan Lin drew a walk with the bases loaded to give the Sox a 3-2 edge, and Lars Anderson then provided some insurance with a grand slam into the seats in right.
Scott Atchison came back out for the Sox in the ninth, and the Twins were able to push across one when Lin lost track of a fly ball in center. But with plenty of breathing room, Boston was able to hold on for the win.
Bottom 8th: Red Sox 8-2: Red Sox second baseman Oscar Tejada tacks on a run with an RBI triple. At this point, it looks like the Red Sox will take step one toward the Mayor's Cup.
Before the game, Bobby Valentine didn't know about the tradition until some asked him about it and he was informed by Red Sox media relations.
Top 8th, Red Sox 7-2: Reliever Scott Atchison came in to pitch for Tony Pena Jr. Another quick inning, I think everyone's still recovering from Anderson's shot to the moon.
Bottom 7th, Red Sox 7-2: Lars Anderson clubs a grand slam over the right field wall. I mean, it was a picture-perfect swing and the ball cleared the right field fence by a lot.
Certainly a nice boost to his trade value if the Red Sox were to go that route.
Mid 7th, Tied up 2-2: Tony Pena Jr. struggled in relief duty, having issued free passes and surrendered a run. In case you didn't know, Pena Jr. is a converted shortstop from his Kansas City days.
On another note, we caught up with Josh Beckett, who said he was trying to work on his changeup in his start on Sunday.
?I think it?s just nice to get back out there," Beckett said. "Get the adrenaline and that?s definitely different than anything we?ve had so far, even with live BPs. I think right now it?s just building up. I felt like I stayed strong through it. I was getting a little bit big out of the stretch in the second inning. Just couldn?t make the adjustment.?
Bottom 6th, Red Sox 2-1: Twins pitcher Kyle Waldrop holding down the fort now. Bobby Valentine has been swapping his backups in little by little, this time with Pedro Ciriaco and Josh Kroeger in the mix.
Tony Pena Jr. is also coming into the game to pitch while Ryan Lavarnway comes in at catcher. Jose Iglesias also in the game to spell Aviles.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 2-1: By the way, remember both the Twins and Red Sox practice in Fort Myers and will play more games this spring training. The winner of the overall series will win the Mayor's Cup.
Last year, the Twins took it, snapping the Red Sox' four-year reign with the title. Word has it that Ron Gardenhire stashed the trophy away in Minny.
End 5th, Red Sox 2-1: After a McDonald fly-out, the Sox got their bats going with back-to-back singles to left field from Will Middlebrooks and Juan Carlos Linares.
Twins righty Esmerling Vasquez had the first balk of the 2012 season, advancing both runners before he got himself out of a jam by striking out Dustin Pedroia, and forcing Ellsbury into a ground-out at first.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 2-1: Mark Melancon made his first appearance in a Red Sox uniform when he came in to relieve Andrew Miller.
Melancon gave up two hits and and a run to Twins left fielder Ben Revere on a fielder's choice.
Kelly Shoppach also made an appearance after relieving fellow catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
End 4th, Red Sox 2-0: There was good, bad and ugly during this bottom stretch.
The good – Mike Aviles single to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead.
The bad – Sean Burroughs misplayed an Adrian Gonzalez' grounder. Then Nishioka struggled to scoop the misplayed ball.
The ugly – As the Twins' defensive miscues went on, Cody Ross had some shoddy baserunning, running to third where Dustin Pedroia was already standing. Pedroia proceeded to run home and get tagged out.
Mid 4th: Andrew Miller continues to touch the mid-90s with his arsenal, retiring Aaron Bates, Luke Hughes and Sean Burroughs consecutively. The lefty is tossing pinpoint pitches right now, certainly helping his cause.
Ellsbury patrolled centerfield well, chasing and making a solid catch to rob Hughes of a hit.
End 3rd: Three up, three down for the Red Sox. But need to give credit to Twins second basemen Ray Chang, who made a spectacular diving stop on Will Middlebrooks' grounder. Chang's throw to first base was just as impressive.
In case you didn't know, Middlebrooks is ranked the top prospect in the organization, according to Baseball America. Valentine took a moment to praise him earlier this week.
Mid 3rd: Not bad at all, Andrew Miller. Bobby Valentine's really been intrigued by him and said so even before spring training. Well, Miller struck out three batters in the inning after yielding a walk.
The Red Sox have been allowing the Twins' baserunners loose on the bases, however. Baserunners have swiped the last two steal attempts on Salty.
End 2nd: This inning went by pretty quick, the only notable moment was Mike Aviles got a hit once again. Seconds later, he got caught stealing — story of the game so far.
The line on Beckett is out and he tossed two innings, allowed one hit and walked two batter. He threw 36 pitches, 18 stikes and Andrew Miller will spell him.
Mid 2nd: Still a scoreless one, but right now Beckett issued two walks in that inning and got behind in the count a few times. Probably not the start he would've loved, but we'll talk to him soon to get his thoughts.
Saltalmacchia allowed a stolen base to Ray Change and never made the throw. But he had a bright spot the at-bat before, firing a bullet to second base to catch Sean Burroughs stealing. Everyone talked about Kelly Shoppach being a defensive specialist, well maybe it's rubbing off on Salty.
End 1st: Bobby Valentine slid Ellsbury to second in the order for this game and said he wanted to see how the outfielder would hit with a runner on base.
Welp, he hit into a double play, not the plan. But Liriano was looking his flamethrowing self and ended the inning by striking out Cody Ross.
Mid 1st: Josh Beckett surrendered just one hit to leadoff hitter Ben Revere. Other than that, he looked pretty crisp.
Before the game, Bobby Valentine stressed the important of Beckett and Jarrod Saltalamacchia developing a rapport. As we all know, Jason Varitek was Beckett's personal catcher through the years.
So far, Saltalamacchia has uttered a few words to Beckett between pitches and the effort to talk things out is certainly visible.
1:38 p.m.: Dewey, Luis Tiant, Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski all in attendance to officially christen JetBlue Park.
1:21 p.m.: The Red Sox are holding a pregame ceremony to honor everyone who chipped in to build JetBlue Park over the past year. There's an orchestra in center field and everyone minor league player in the organization are circled around the infield. That's a lot of players by the way.
Oh, wait now it gets more crowd with the pro players get introduced onto the field.
12:30 p.m.: As you wait for the Grapefruit League Opener, check out our coverage from the past day or so:
8 a.m. ET: This time around, the Red Sox will play the Minnesota Twins in a real game — one that counts in the Grapefruit League standings. It will take place at JetBlue Park.
It'll be interesting to monitor if outfielder Cody Ross can maintain his momentum from Saturday's two-homer day. Darnell McDonald also showed a strong swing against collegiate competition, and he'll look to build on that.
Action begins at 1:30 p.m. ET. Here's the Red Sox' lineup for the game:
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Cody Ross, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Mike Aviles, SS
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Darnell McDonald, LF
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Juan Carlos Linares, DH
Josh Beckett, P
Ben Revere, LF
Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS
Rene Tosoni, RF
Aaron Bates, 1B
Luke Hughes, DH
Sean Burroughs, 3B
Ray Chang, 2B
Rene Rivera, C
Darin Mastrolanni, CF
Francisco Liriano, P