Josh Beckett would make his first appearance of the young preseason for the Sox, going two scoreless innings to start the game. But while he kept the runs off the board, Beckett was by no means at his best, allowing a quick leadoff hit on a high changeup and allowing a pair of walks as his usual command was nowhere to be found.
Opposite Beckett, Francisco Liriano had some more success against a Red Sox lineup featuring six potential starters with some help from his defense. After a leadoff walk from Dustin Pedroia, Liriano allowed Jacoby Ellsbury to get some good contact, putting the ball on a line that ended in first baseman Aaron Bates' glove for an easy double play. Mike Aviles would also pick up a single, but once again Liriano would have the baserunner erased when the Sox' shortstop was caught trying to steal second base.
The Sox would open up the scoring in the fourth after Andrew Miller provided a strong pair of scoreless innings for the team, striking out the side after a leadoff walk in the third. Dustin Pedroia once again provided a leadoff baserunner with a double to right, and while a baserunning error by Cody Ross (on base via a walk) would mitigate a fielding error by third baseman Sean Burroughs on Adrian Gonzalez' pop-up, Mike Aviles would ensure a productive inning by singling up the middle for two RBI.
The Twins would push across a run of their own in the top of the fifth, getting to Mark Melancon with a pair of leadoff singles, then tie things up in the top of the seventh with a 2-out single from Ben Revere. The score would not remain level for long, however, as Jason Bulger entered the game and proved completely unable to find the strike zone. Giving up four walks surrounding a sacrifice bunt from Jason Repko, Bulger would come up against Lars Anderson with the bases loaded, and finally throw a strike.
It was perhaps not the best time for a change of pace. While the curveball dipped low, Lars Anderson made the appropriate adjustment and dropped the head of the bat to the perfect position, hooking the ball with a golf swing to right field, over the wall, and to the very back of the stands. The grand slam would balloon the Sox' lead to an untouchable 7-2, with Oscar Tejeda's triple adding an eighth tally before an inconsistent Scott Atchison allowed a third run in the process of mopping up the final two innings.
It's 1-0 in the Grapefruit League for the Sox. They'll make their way into the Twins' house for the second half of the home-and-home tomorrow.
For now, however, I'm reviving "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" from last spring. After all, it's all about individual performances for now. So without further ado:
Mike Aviles continues to swing a hot bat, going 2-for-2 with a pair of runs driven in one day after playing wall ball. The second hit was a bit lucky, and he was caught stealing, but there's some hope that Aviles' bat will actually be a very real positive at the shortstop position this year, so a good start certainly can't hurt.
Andrew Miller recovered from a depressingly familiar start in the form of a leadoff walk to strike out the side in the third, and then earned three quick outs in the second.
And of course there's Lars Anderson, who provided two hits--including the biggest of the game--and made a nice play to save an error at first. If nothing else, he can hopefully build some modicum of trade value back.
Josh Beckett's control was inconsistent throughout his two innings, leading to two walks and a number of three ball counts. Still, physically Beckett looks as good as I can remember seeing him in spring training, so some early rust shouldn't be much of a concern.
Jacoby Ellsbury's luck falls into this category. He hit 'em pretty hard, but they didn't fall in.
Cody Ross' baserunning gaffe was pretty ugly, leaving Dustin Pedroia high-and-dry between third and home. These are the kinks you work out in spring training.
Jason Repko's sacrifice bunt, while fine in form, is the sort of thing that would be maddening in a real game. After throwing balls with 8-of-10 pitches, Bulger clearly had nothing. But it is spring training, and Jason Repko is Jason Repko, so for now it's no big deal.