Boston Red Sox: Minnesota Twins

Francona irked by umpires' actions

May, 7, 2011
5/07/11
12:51
AM ET
BOSTON -- Red Sox manager Terry Francona was thrown out of Friday night’s game because of what he termed a “silly rule,” and he was none too happy with umpiring crew chief Joe West for West’s actions on the field after the ejection.

Francona leaped off his seat on the bench in the second inning when pitcher Tim Wakefield was called for a balk that negated an inning-ending putout in a rundown and gift-wrapped another run for the Twins, padding Minnesota’s lead to 4-0.

Runners were at first and third with two outs. Wakefield faked a throw to third base and then wheeled and threw to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Denard Span, the runner at first, was cleanly picked off. Gonzalez threw to second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who slapped a tag on Span well before Ben Revere, running from third, even got close to the plate.

The Sox thought they were out of the inning. But a split-second after Wakefield made his throw, plate umpire Angel Hernandez was moving out from behind the plate and calling a “step-balk,” ruling Wakefield had not stepped far enough toward third base for it to be a legal pickoff move.

Arguing step-balks is like arguing balls and strikes -- it's not allowed. Such protests call for automatic ejection if someone argues.

“I actually never got an explanation,” said Francona. “I got out there so quick because I was stunned [at the call]. I’ve seen Wake do that 30 times. I kind of got out there to find out what happened. Once I got out there and was [thrown out] I figured I’d get an explanation, but I was not even allowed to ask, which to me is silly.

“It seems like a bit of a silly rule,” he said of the ejection, his second of the year and 31st of his managerial career.

That’s when West, umpiring at third base, got involved, much to Francona’s displeasure. West tried to shield Francona from getting to Hernandez. There was contact made between the two of them, more than once, though it was difficult to tell whether West or Francona initiated the contact.

“Joe wants to be in everybody’s business,” said an agitated Francona after the game. “That [discussion] was between me and Angel. He [West] grabbed me. I didn’t appreciate that. I thought he was out of line. That was wrong.”

Francona was so steamed on the field that as West helped escort him past the plate and toward the Sox dugout, Francona yanked what he had been chewing from his mouth and tossed it from close range at Hernandez, though it wasn’t clear if anything hit the umpire.

Francona could be looking at being disciplined for his actions.

Wakefield, for his part, did not think he balked after seeing the tape of the play.

“I heard Angel say I stepped toward the plate, but there’s clearly a gap between both my feet,” said Wakefield.

In the sixth inning, Boston pitcher Alfredo Aceves committed another run-producing balk. This one was obvious. He started his motion, then stopped before stepping off the rubber.

“My bad,” said Aceves.

Francona chuckled at that one.

"That was about as much of a balk [as you can commit],” said Francona. “I wanted to run back out there and tell them they got [that one] right.”

Rapid reaction: Twins 9, Sox 2

May, 6, 2011
5/06/11
10:09
PM ET


BOSTON -- Tim Wakefield, trying to chase down Cy Young and Roger Clemens for the most wins as a Red Sox pitcher, did not fare well Friday night in his second spot start of the season.

The knuckleballer’s seventh pitch was hammered into the Monster seats by Trevor Plouffe and things didn’t get much better for him after that. The Twins, the worst-hitting team in the American League (.230), rapped out nine hits in knocking out Wakefield after only 4 1/3 innings en route to a 9-2 romp at Fenway Park.

Yes, if normally sure-handed first baseman Adrian Gonzalez had made a play on a ball he generally eats up, costing Wakefield a two-run single in the third, the damage wouldn’t have been as great. And his run-producing balk didn’t help matters, costing the Sox manager Terry Francona in the process. He was ejected because it’s a call that can’t be argued.

Ultimately, though, Wakefield was charged with eight runs, six of which were earned. His earned-run average jumped from 4.08 to 5.73 in 10 games, totaling 22 innings.

Wakefield, in his 17th year in Boston, has 179 wins as a member of the Red Sox, trailing only Young and Clemens, who each posted 192.

Wakefield, who has a career total of 193 victories, including his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, is 44 years, 277 days old, the oldest active player in the majors. Only Deacon McGuire, at 44 years, 280 days, was older when he made a start for the Red Sox on Aug. 24, 1908.

Wakefield has had a magnificent career on the field, and off the field his humanitarian efforts are unparalleled. But his opportunities to catch Cy Young and Roger Clemens are dwindling, and Friday night’s results aren’t going to help him in his bid to secure more chances to start.

Where's the defense? First baseman Adrian Gonzalez is a two-time Gold Glove winner. But somehow, as Gonzalez went to his knees moving to his right, Denard Span’s bouncer got past him, rolling into right field for a two-out, two-run single in the second inning that gave Minnesota a 3-0 lead. One balk later, it was 4-0, and the Red Sox were unable to catch up.

Later in the game, Gonzalez, who clouted his first homer of the year over the Monster seats, made an outstanding diving play going to his right for the final out of the sixth, robbing Danny Valencia of a hit. It was a terrific play -- four innings too late.

And then there was shortstop Jed Lowrie. The Sox still were in the game at 6-2 in the fifth when Drew Butera smoked a hot shot to short. Lowrie, maybe screened by a runner, let the ball slip through him for an error that allowed two more runs to score, making it an 8-2 game.

Later Lowrie wasn’t able to handle a throw from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a stolen-base attempt. The ball was knocked out of his glove and the baserunner scrambled over to third base. Lowrie was charged with his second error of the game and fourth of the season, tying him with Marco Scutaro for the team lead.

Where's the offense? The Red Sox did not score in their final four innings of Wednesday’s marathon 13-inning loss (5-3) to the Angels. They were blanked Thursday, 11-0. Friday night, except for solo homers by J.D. Drew (second inning) and Adrian Gonzalez (fourth), the Sox were able to do very little with Minnesota starter Scott Baker in his eight solid innings.

As for the only other bright spots, Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to 15 games and Carl Crawford’s streak reached six games.

Slumping second baseman Dustin Pedroia returned, but a day off didn’t help him any. He went 0 for 3, an ugly 0 for 3 after a first-inning walk. He whiffed, banged into a double play, and flailed at a wide breaking pitch for strike three with runners at second and third and two outs in the eighth.

Thanks, Mr. Wakefield.
The Twins’ Trevor Plouffe and Ben Revere each had his first major-league at-bat of the season. And, with the unwitting help of Boston pitcher Tim Wakefield, they each notched a successful debut.

Plouffe clubbed a shoulder-high hanging knuckler for a solo homer into the Monster seats in the first inning. Revere ripped a single to left-center in his first time up this season.

If you're scoring at home. The shift employed by the Red Sox in the first inning against Twins designated hitter Jason Kubel led to an unusual double play.

With a runner at first and one out, Kubel, a left-handed hitter, smacked a bouncer to Boston third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who was wide of the bag. It was a tailor-made double-play ball.

But the second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, was swung way over toward first base on the shift. So shortstop Jed Lowrie, who was positioned behind the second-base bag and shaded a bit to the right-field side of it, stepped in to take Youkilis’ throw for the force-out.

Then Lowrie made a quick relay to first, easily nailing Kubel for the inning-ending double play.

That’s a 5-6-3 DP in the scorebook.

Dlugach suffers separated shoulder

March, 1, 2011
3/01/11
3:39
PM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Boston Red Sox minor leaguer Brent Dlugach suffered a dislocated left shoulder against the Minnesota Twins Tuesday afternoon at Hammond Stadium.

Playing third base, Dlugach was diving to make a play on a bunt when he suffered the injury. He was examined by a member of the Twins’ medical staff, and will receive scans later today and again on Wednesday.

“You could tell right away. Even [Jonathan Papelbon] said he kind of heard it [pop out],” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “You feel bad because the kid’s coming in and trying to show what he can do. He’s getting some scans and we’ll do some follow-up stuff tomorrow and we’ll figure out where he’s at and what he needs to do.”

The 28-year-old infielder is in his first year with the Red Sox. He’s spent his entire pro career in the Detroit Tigers organization.

It’s been a tough week for him. He was also drilled in the backside during live BP by Red Sox pitcher Bobby Jenks last weekend.

Sox lineup at Twins

March, 1, 2011
3/01/11
10:37
AM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Here is today's Red Sox lineup for their Grapefruit League game against the Twins today at Hammons Stadium (1:05 p.m.ET):

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Jed Lowrie, 2B
3. Mike Cameron, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. Ryan Kalish, CF
6. Darnell McDonald, LF
7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
8. Josh Reddick, RF
9. Drew Sutton, 1B
SP -- Jon Lester, LHP

Also scheduled to pitch today: RHP Alfredo Aceves, RHP Jonathan Papelbon, LHP Randy Williams, LHP Rich Hill, RHP Matt Fox, RHP Tony Pena, Jr., RHP Clevelan Santeliz

Good morning from the Fort

February, 28, 2011
2/28/11
9:13
AM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox and Twins are back in action this afternoon at City of Palms Park. Minnesota beat Boston Sunday night at Hammond Stadium, 8-4.

The Red Sox are having a meeting this morning with the alumni association, so it was a quick morning from a media access standpoint.

Here is Boston's lineup for this afternoon. Interesting to see Crawford penciled into the three spot. Perhaps an indication of where the Sox are thinking of hitting him in the everyday lineup?:

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Carl Crawford, LF
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. J.D. Drew, RF
6. Jason Varitek, C
7. Brent Dlugach, SS
8. Drew Sutton, 1B
9. Yamaico Navarro, 3B
SP -- Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP

Also scheduled to pitch today: RHP Tim Wakefield, RHP Daniel Bard, LHP Andrew Miller, RHP Matt Albers, RHP Matt Fox

Sox at Twins lineups

February, 27, 2011
2/27/11
5:48
PM ET
BOSTON

1. Darnell McDonald, lf
2. Jed Lowrie, 2b
3. David Ortiz, dh
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3b
5. Mike Cameron, cf
6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c
7. Ryan Kalish, rf
8. Lars Anderson, 1b
9. Jose Iglesias, ss

RHP -- Josh Beckett
RHP -- Clay Buchholz
LHP -- Hideki Okajima
RHP -- Scott Atchison
RHP -- Dan Wheeler
RHP -- Brandon Duckworth

MINNESOTA

1. Denard Span, cf
2. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, 2b
3. Jason Kubel, rf
4. Jim Thome, dh
5. Danny Valencia, 3b
6. Chris Parmlee, 1b
7. Jason Repko, lf
8. Alexi Casilla, ss
9. Drew Butera, c

RHP -- Carl Pavano
RHP -- Pat Neshek
LHP -- Dusty Hughes
RHP -- Alex Burnett
RHP -- Jeff Manship
LHP -- Scott Diamond
RHP -- Kyle Waldrop
RHP -- Anthony Swarzak

Red Sox set for Mayor's Cup action

February, 27, 2011
2/27/11
4:08
PM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox begin their quest for the Mayor’s Cup tonight when they travel across town to face the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium.

The Lee County neighbors will play a total of five games this spring. The trophy was on a table in the Red Sox clubhouse today.

“There’s a lot of anxiety,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said with a smile. “It’s like facing the Yankees on Opening Day, it’s too much too soon.”

The Red Sox have won the last four Mayor's Cup titles.

“It’s hard not to be arrogant,” Francona said.

*Red Sox reliever Dennys Reyes tossed a 32-pitch side session this morning. Francona said he did not watch, but pitching coach Curt Yong was ecstatic. Reyes, who arrived in camp on Saturday after having visa issues, will throw live BP on Tuesday.

“Curt said he was really pleased how game ready he looks,” Francona said. “He was doing something [in Mexico] because Curt was really pleased. He has no qualms about letting him face hitters on Tuesday.”

*Outfielder Carl Crawford rejoined the team after missing Saturday because of a personal issue back home in Houston. He will make his Red Sox spring training debut against the Twins Monday afternoon at City of Palms Park.

*Outfielder J.D. Drew also will play his first game of the spring Monday afternoon.

*Victor Jose, the 6-year-old son of former Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez, was a frequent visitor around the Boston clubhouse last season. Victor Jose and Francona had a close relationship and Francona said he recently received a voicemail from Martinez’s son: “Call me. I miss you.”

Sox set schedule for upcoming games

February, 24, 2011
2/24/11
12:59
PM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox have set the pitching schedule for the two college exhibition games on Saturday at City of Palms Park, and for the first Grapefruit League games:

* Saturday, 1 p.m. vs. Boston College: Stolmy Pimentel, Michael Bowden, Jason Rice, Clevelan Santeliz, Matt Fox and Randy Williams.

* Saturday, 6 p.m. vs. Northeastern: Kyle Weiland, Alex Wilson, Rich Hill, Tony Pena and Matt Albers.

* Sunday, 7 p.m. vs. Twins: Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Brandon Duckworth, Hideki Okajima, Scott Atchison and Dan Wheeler.

* Monday, 1:05 p.m. vs. Minnesota: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard.

* Tuesday, 1:05 p.m. vs. Minnesota: Jon Lester and Alfredo Aceves.

* Wednesday, 1:05 p.m. vs. Atlanta: John Lackey and Weiland.

Notes: Breaking down Lester, Youkilis

May, 21, 2010
5/21/10
12:37
AM ET
BOSTON -- Quick hits on a 6-2 Red Sox win over the Twins, giving them a sweep of the two-game set here and a modest three-game winning streak heading into a tough six-game trip -- three games against the Phillies, the team with the National League’s best record, and three more against the Rays, the team with the AL’s best record.

* Jon Lester’s complete-game win was the first by a Sox pitcher this season, first nine-inning complete game since Josh Beckett shut out the Royals last July 12, and Lester’s first nine-inning complete game since his 2-hit, 11-K, 8-1 win over Texas last June 6.
[+] EnlargeVictor Martinez and Jon Lester
AP Photo/Charles Krupa Victor Martinez congratulates Jon Lester after Lester finished off the Twins on just 103 pitches.

* Lester polished off the Twins in a tidy 2 hours 32 minutes, requiring just 103 pitches. It was only the 10th time since 1990 that a Sox pitcher had thrown a nine-inning complete game in 103 or fewer pitches. Beckett did it twice last season, needing just 94 pitches apiece in his shutout of the Royals and a shutout of the Braves on June 20.

* Lester, who struck out nine and did not walk a batter, recorded nine first-pitch outs and went to three-ball counts with only three hitters, to Orlando Hudson once and Michael Cuddyer twice. He went to one 3-and-0 count, to Hudson in the fourth, and came back to retire him on a flyball. Cuddyer grounded out on a full count in the fifth and lined out to Bill Hall on a full count to end the game.

* First-pitch strikes? He was a phenomenal 15-for-15 against left-handed hitters, 13-of-17 to right-handed hitters. Five of his strikeouts came on swings, four were called.

* His fastball averaged 94 miles per hour, touching 97.

“Being relentless, repeating his pitches,’’ manager Terry Francona said of Lester’s performance. “There are a lot of ways for him to go right now to attack the strike zone.’’

Lester’s outing comes the night after Clay Buchholz’s bid for a complete game ended one batter into the ninth, when Denard Span led off with an infield hit. (Daniel Bard picked up the save in a 3-2 Sox win.)

“Kind of a team thing,’’ Lester said. “Following Buck last night, he did a great job, and then to be able to go out and do it again.’’

* Lester has gone at least seven innings in each of his last five starts (four wins and a no-decision). Thursday night was the 100th start of his career. He is now 46-18 with a .719 winning percentage, ninth best in history over a pitcher's first 100 starts. Whitey Ford is No. 1 at .773 (58-17) and Lester is just ahead of one Roger Clemens (56-22, .718), the only other Sox pitcher on the list.

* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Lester's outing was the first route-going victory with no walks and at least nine strikeouts by a Red Sox pitcher since Aug. 12, 2004, when Pedro Martinez threw a 6-0 shutout against Tampa Bay in which he fanned 10.

* Forty-two percent of Lester's off-speed pitches thrown outside the zone were chased compared to the MLB average of 31. His overall chase percentage of 39.6 percent was also the highest he's forced this season.

* Adrian Beltre put the Sox on the board with a second-inning home run off Francisco Liriano, his third of the season, and Kevin Youkilis followed an inning later with a three-run blast off the back wall beyond the camera well in left-center, his eighth home run of the season.

Youkilis is on a spectacular tear. In his last 17 games dating back to May 3, Youkilis has 21 hits and 22 walks and also has been hit by a pitch three times, giving him an incredible .610 on-base percentage in that span. He is batting .412 (21-for-51) in that time, raising his overall average to a team-best .324.

Youkilis, who came into the game leading the league with a .448 average against lefties, went 2-for-3 against Liriano, one of the top lefties in the league, after walking twice and homering off the Yankees’ CC Sabathia Tuesday night. He’s now batting .469 against lefties, with the Sox due to face Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels Friday night.

* Angel Sanchez, called up to play short for one game, acquitted himself admirably afield, starting two double plays. Marco Scutaro, who had a cortisone shot Wednesday, is expected to return to the starting lineup Friday. Sanchez will head back to Pawtucket, with reliever Scott Atchison a good bet to be summoned to take his place.

* Yes, Francona said, the Sox were aware when they told reliever Scott Schoeneweis that he had been designated for assignment on Wednesday that the next day was the one-year anniversary of the day his wife, Gabrielle, died of a drug overdose. The Sox made the move because with Scutaro unavailable and Bill Hall playing left field against left-hander Liriano, they needed a shortstop.

“What do you want me to do?’’ Francona said flatly. “I wrote him a note. As much as we try to be aware of personal things, I don’t know how you make a baseball decision. You can’t ask Scutaro to have a shot two days later. That's not going to work.’’

Pregame notes: Cameron out, Lowell in

April, 15, 2010
4/15/10
12:45
PM ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- How's that for a misleading headline, Sox fans?

No, Mike Lowell is not playing center field this afternoon in place of Mike Cameron. We're talking two different lineup changes here. Lowell is serving as DH in place of David Ortiz, who will be sitting against Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano.

Cameron, meanwhile, was in the original lineup posted but was scratched because of a lower abdominal strain. So Bill Hall, originally scheduled to play left, is moving to center, and Jeremy Hermida, originally not in the lineup, will be playing left.

Tim Wakefield is making his second start. Wakefield had a no-decision in Kansas City despite pitching well, going six innings and allowing two runs on back-to-back home runs by Billy Butler and Rick Ankiel. Butler's home run came on an infrequent Wakefield fastball.

Left fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was scheduled to try swinging a bat Thursday -- the tarp was on the field before the game so players hit in the cages -- with the hope that he would be able to play Friday night in Boston.

"He was pretty stiff this morning,'' manager Terry Francona said. "But that was at 8:30. We'll see how it goes.''

And for all of you wondering whether Ortiz had received a sign from the bench to run during Wednesday's game -- steal? Hit and run? -- the answer was an emphatic "neither" from Francona.

When a reporter said he just wanted to establish that was the case, Francona said: "That was re-established during the game.''

The element of surprise is one thing. "But he's not invisible,'' Francona said.

Dustin Pedroia has 4 home runs and 10 RBIs, the first Red Sox player to reach those numbers in the season's first eight games since Fred Lynn had 6 home runs and 11 RBIs through 8 games in 1979, according to the Sox crack PR staff.

Francona agreed that Pedroia could be a middle-of-the-order type hitter.

"He could be,'' Francona said. "I really like him hitting second. He's got that kind of sparkplug element. I think he likes hitting up in the order. There are some guys who prefer to see an inning before they hit.

"But if you were to do that ever, he wouldn't skip a beat, and you might be right, some of his extra-base hits might turn into RBIs.

"He's a good player. You could put him in the order anywhere. The one thing [Pedroia] didn't like doing was leading off.

"Why? I think a lot of guys are like that. [Kevin Youkilis] is the same way. Youks will hit anywhere, but he doesn't really like leading off. Pedey never said anything to me. I wish he would have. I would have quit doing it a week earlier.''

Lineup: Lowell in at DH; Cameron scratched

April, 15, 2010
4/15/10
11:26
AM ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- Here is the Red Sox lineup for today’s series finale between the Sox and Twins (1:10 p.m. ET). As expected, Mike Lowell is in as DH over David Ortiz with left-handed Francisco Liriano on the mound.

Mike Cameron was a late scratch with an abdominal strain. He'll be replaced in center by Bill Hall. Jacoby Ellsbury is out again with sore ribs, with Jeremy Hermida taking his spot in left.

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Victor Martinez, C
4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
5. Adrian Beltre, 3B
6. Mike Lowell, DH
7. J.D. Drew, RF
8. Bill Hall, CF
9. Jeremy Hermida, LF
SP -- Tim Wakefield, RHP

Ellsbury unlikely to play before return home

April, 14, 2010
4/14/10
10:35
AM ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Wednesday that "realistically" it might not be until the team returns to Boston on Friday that outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury returns to the lineup.

Ellsbury bruised his ribs on the left side in a collision with third baseman Adrian Beltre and is still reporting soreness and some trouble breathing.

"[The soreness] is a little more centrally isolated, which is good,'' Francona said. "But he's having trouble rotating. As much as we love having him in there, it's not a good thing to get him back quick.''

Ellsbury was replaced in left field by Jeremy Hermida for Wednesday afternoon's game against the Minnesota Twins.

Here is today's Red Sox lineup:

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Victor Martinez, C
4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
5. David Ortiz, DH
6. Adrian Beltre, 3B
7. J.D. Drew, RF
8. Mike Cameron, CF
9. Jeremy Hermida, LF
SP -- John Lackey, RHP

Live chat: Red Sox vs. Twins

April, 14, 2010
4/14/10
9:25
AM ET
Join ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes for a live chat from today's Red Sox-Twins game at Target Field at 1 p.m.

Quick hits: Twins 5, Sox 2

April, 12, 2010
4/12/10
7:25
PM ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- The last one was 87 years ago, when they christened Yankee Stadium by losing to Babe Ruth and the Yankees, but the Red Sox are now 0-5 as the inaugural visitors to new ballparks.

The Sox fell 5-2 to the Minnesota Twins in Target Field, playing the first game outdoors in the Twin Cities since 1981. The ballpark is a beauty; the game, something less than an artistic success for the Sox, who are now puttering along at 3-4.

A few quick hits:

Awful in April: Jon Lester had another in a string of forgettable outings in the season’s first month, giving up two runs in the first and throwing 107 pitches in just five innings. Lester had some bad luck -- a double that nearly ripped off Kevin Youkilis’ glove, a single that hit the second-base bag -- but he didn’t help himself by walking three and falling behind in counts all afternoon.

Running wild: The Twins were 3-for-3 in stolen base attempts against Victor Martinez, who threw high on all three attempts. Teams have now stolen successfully on 12 of 13 attempts against Martinez.

Two more whiffs for Papi: David Ortiz took a called third strike from Carl Pavano in his first at-bat, making it five straight punchouts over two games, the last three all called. Ortiz doubled on his second at-bat, then went down swinging in the seventh against Twins reliever Brian Duensing, a lefty.

Clocked by Kubel: Jason Kubel became the first player to homer in the new yard, hitting one deep into the right-field porch. The home run came off Sox reliever Scott Atchison leading off the seventh.

Punked by Pavano: One-time Sox prospect, Marlin star and Yankee bust Carl Pavano held the Sox to four hits through six innings, the only run coming on back-to-back doubles by Youkilis and Ortiz in the fourth.

Rauch motel: Jon Rauch, who replaced injured All-Star Joe Nathan (elbow reconstruction) as Twins closer, is 5 for 5 in save chances after closing out Sox 1-2-3 in ninth.

Quick hits: Red Sox 9, Twins 3

March, 6, 2010
3/06/10
4:55
PM ET
The Outcome: The Boston Red Sox took a pivotal game in their quest for the coveted Lee County Mayor’s Cup, defeating the Twins 9-3 on Saturday afternoon at City of Palms Park. Boston now leads the best-of-seven series, 2-1.

On a serious note, Tug Hulett crushed a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Red Sox a 5-3 lead. It was his first round-tripper of the spring and it came on the first pitch.

“Really in that situation, you’ve got guys on base, and you’re just trying to put the ball up the middle,” he said.

His shot landed in the right-field bleachers. It didn’t take long for the fans to begin a “Tug. Tug. Tug.” chant.

“That’s a first for me. It was pretty neat,” he said. “I thank my mom for giving me a chantable name.”

An infielder by trade, Hulett has been used as a designated hitter this spring since he’s been bothered by shoulder stiffness, but said he should be able to play the field on Sunday.

The Sox’ Gil Velazquez went 2-for-5 with two RBI in the victory.

Notable: Pitcher John Lackey made his Red Sox debut on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander worked two perfect innings with one strikeout. He threw 20 pitches, 12 strikes. So far this spring, the starting rotation looks solid, and with Lackey in the mix this season, Boston could have one of the top rotations in the league. Lackey threw mostly fastballs and mixed in a couple of curveballs during his brief outing.

“He was good,” said Red Sox catching prospect Luis Exposito. “He commanded his fastball and that’s what he wanted to do. He got ahead of hitters and put them away.”

Prospect to watch: Exposito has been in the Red Sox organization for the last four years after he was selected in the 31st round of the 2005 draft. He’s participating in his first big-league camp this spring and he’s opening some eyes. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder was behind the dish on Saturday when Lackey made his spring debut. Offensively, Exposito lined a shot to deep center field for a double to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning. He eventually scored on Gil Velazquez’s RBI-single. Exposito joins the prospect ranks along with Mark Wagner and Dusty Brown. Exposito is likely to begin the season at Double-A Portland. In four minor league seasons, he has a .280 average with 31 homers and 150 RBI.

“You get a chance to be here with these guys and they make you feel comfortable,” he said. “I’m working hard in the cage every day, and I’m trying to bring that into the game."

Play of the game: Red Sox center fielder Matt Sheely turned in a defensive gem in the top of the seventh inning. He had misplayed a ball earlier due to the sun, but made up for it when he turned a 8-2 double play. He made a catch in center and made a strong throw to the plate to cut the runner down, attempting to tag up on the play.

Up next: The Red Sox will face the Orioles on Sunday in Sarasota. Clay Buchholz will make his second start of the spring, but the big news will be Casey Kelly’s homecoming. The top pitching prospect for the Sox, Kelly is scheduled to throw. Boof Bonser, Daniel Bard, Scott Atchison and Robert Manuel will also pitch for Boston.

Etc.: J.D. Drew played right field for the first time this spring ... Mike Cameron played in his second Grapefruit League game ... Saturday’s game was the 90th consecutive sellout at City of Palms Park, dating back to March 16, 2003. The weather finally warmed up and 7,640 attended the afternoon game.

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