For the first time in five years, the Boston Red Sox will not be taking home the annual Fort. Myers Mayor's Cup. Instead, the Minnesota Twins (their cross-town rivals) have captured the prize after coming from behind to defeat the Red Sox 9-8 at City of Palms Park.
While the Red Sox insist that they may not care about handing the Twins their first Mayor's Cup since 2006, they may care about how they gave it to them. Leading 8-1 to begin the eigth inning, the Red Sox bullpen surrendered eight runs in the eigth and ninth to give the Twins the 9-8 advantage. Without further ado, lets get straight to it:
Daisuke Matsuzaka got the start for the Red Sox looking to continue his prominent late Spring Training performances. Matsuzaka started the frame by giving up a leadoff double to Denard Span that was deemed an error by Mike Cameron in right field after the ball bounced off his glove. After getting fellow countryman Tsuyoshi Nishioka to ground out, Dice-K surrendered an RBI double to Joe Mauer that drove in Span. 1-0 Twins lead.
However the Sox would claim the lead in the second inning when Cameron, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Jed Lowrie all reached base with two outs in the inning. Then, Darnell McDonald brought them all home on an RBI Triple to left-center field off starter Brian Duensing that made the lead 3-1 in Boston's favor.
Matsuzaka would cruise the rest of the way as he held the Twins hitters scoreless through the six innings that he pitched. Dice-K only allowed three hits after the first inning which transcended into a great performance.
The Red Sox offense continued in the third inning when first baseman Adrian Gonzalez connected on an opposite-field smash for his first home run as a member of the Red Sox. 4-1 Boston.
The offense once again picked up in the fifth inning when McDonald and Dustin Pedroia led off the inning with a pair of hits off Twins reliever Jeff Manship. Carl Crawford scored McDonald on an RBI groundout to shortstop. Kevin Youkilis then brought home pinch-runner Drew Sutton (who replaced Pedroia) on a sacrifice-fly. 6-1 BoSox.
The Sox would pick up two more in the sixth and seventh on an RBI single by Sutton and an RBI double by Saltalamacchia. 8-1 Red Sox.
After a scoreless inning of relief from roster hopeful Hideki Okajima, Terry Fracona brought in righty reliever Dan Wheeler to begin the eighth. Wheeler allowed a leadoff double by Justin Morneau which was preceded by an RBI double by Mark Dolenc that scored pinch runner Brian Dinkleman. Dolenc would soon score as Wheeler surrendered yet another RBI double, this time to Deibinson Robinson. The lead now 8-3 Red Sox.
After the offense was held scoreless in the bottom of the eigth, the Red Sox brought in new reliever Bobby Jenks in his familiar ninth inning role to close out the game. He wouldn't do that at all. After surrendering a leadoff single, Jenks gave up an RBI double by Rene Rivera. Jenks wasn't done as he surrendered two more runs which set him up in a bases loaded jam with two out. He couldn't finish it out as he gave up an RBI double to Chase Lambin which plated everyone on base. 9-8 Twins.
With all of their regulars out, the Red Sox offense was held scoreless in the late innings including the ninth, as reliever Phil Dumatrait only needed five pitches to retire the Sox 1-2-3 to give the Twins the 9-8 win.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: Salty continued his red-hot spring performance at the plate as he went 2 for 4 on the day including an RBI double in the middle frames. He seems very ready to handle the everyday catching duties and may convince Terry Francona to use him more against lefties. With just about a week left to go until the Sox actually play games that count, a red-hot Saltalamacchia is just what the doctor ordered.
Daisuke Matsuzaka: With everything that has been going on with the media and in his home country now, Matsuzaka has really not seemed phased by anything and has pitched very well. Dice-K went six innings today on five hits and only surrendering the one run. It is good to see a sharp Matsuzaka this late in Spring Training.
Adrian Gonzalez: Well, there goes the theory that Gonzalez's shoulder was effecting his power stroke. Gonzalez connected on an opposite field (emphasis on opposite) home run that helped the Red Sox early lead. Gonzalez was able to hit his first home run of the Spring and his first with the Red Sox, which is certainly a good thing to see with the season almost underway.
Dan Wheeler: After being signed by the Red Sox to be their sixth inning man and slim-lead protector, he sure didn't live up to that tonight. Wheeler gave up three doubles in the eighth inning, which eventually plated two runs. He may have a pen' spot locked up, but he needs to really step up his game to act like he is a lock for the bullpen.
Bobby Jenks: We were all so high on this guy this offseason as a non-tendered player from the White Sox. Jenks flashed almost a Papelbon-like performance as he not only surrendered six runs on five hits, but he gave away the huge lead the offense had built. While there were a few fielding errors mixed in, Jenks really did not pitch well; especially taking into perspective that those were not the Twins regular players.