Well, it just wouldn't be baseball season if Hideki Okajima weren't blowing the Sox' chance at a win. That's exactly what happened tonight, as the Twins put together five hits and four runs on Okajima in the fifth inning, putting the game out of reach of a late Red Sox comeback and securing an 8-4 win to start off the Mayor's Cup.
To be fair to Okajima, the rest of the pitching wasn't great. Only Clay Buchholz and Scott Atchison could keep runs off the board. The Twins were making hard contact all night, and really it was only due to strong defensive efforts from players like Jose Iglesias and Ryan Kalish that the Twins were held to single digits.
Offensively, it took the Sox eight innings to get on the board, at which point they managed to pick up four runs over the last two, including homers from Lars Anderson and Mark Wagner. But by that point, things were well out of reach, and the Sox fell to 0-1 in the five-game series.
Since Spring Training is so much more about individual performances than that of the team, I figure it makes sense to put a little twist on things. So...
- Lars Anderson & Mark Wagner: Their two homers were by far the loudest swings of the night for the Sox, and it's always good to see Lars put the ball in the air a couple of times.
- Mike Cameron: After spending much of last year injured, Cameron seemed very healthy tonight, picking up a stolen base and an infield single while playing much of the game.
- Clay Buchholz: Definitely the Sox' best pitcher of the night. Clay picked up a whiff against the first batter he faced before inducing weak contact from the rest, earning three infield flies and a couple of weak ground balls. And it didn't even take him 20 pitches.
- Daniel Nava: Grabbed a base hit, and with the help of Jose Iglesias, gunned down a runner at home.
- Josh Beckett: Beckett picked up five straight outs before allowing a double and a triple, but most of those outs came on very hard hit balls.
- Dan Wheeler: Wheeler was greeted by a home run from former Red Sox farm hand Jeff Bailey.
- Brandon Duckworth: Already a huge long shot to ever make the team, Duckworth's two earned runs didn't help him any tonight.
- Hideki Okajima: On the one hand, it's just one game in spring training. On the other hand, it's an MLB career-long downward trend.