A Darnell McDonald extra innings home run proved the difference for the Red Sox, who defeated the Tigers 2-1 on Tuesday.
With Boston heading to Lakeland to take on Detroit, the stage was set for a spring reunion between new Tiger Victor Martinez and his old team. And while the slugging catcher would collect a hit and a walk against the Sox, it was Daisuke Matsuzaka who ultimately stole the show.
After a number of poor performances to start the spring, Daisuke Matsuzaka was in serious need of a bounce-back game. Facing off against the hardest competition he’d seen so far in spring—a Major League Detroit lineup—Matsuzaka had just that.
Allowing only a pair of singles to Magglio Ordonez and Victor Martinez, who also added a walk against his old team, Daisuke held the Tigers scoreless through five innings. With six ground outs and five strikeouts, it wasn’t just a matter of luck or defense, either; Matsuzaka was just plain dominant.
The Sox, however, were quiet against Justin Verlander for the most part. In fact, the team would only manage two baserunners off of the Tigers’ ace, but one of them, courtesy of Jacoby Ellsbury, was a big one. Verlander delivered the center fielder a 94 MPH fastball, and he sent it out of the park, picking up his second home run of the spring. With his average still hanging above .400, it’s been a strong return to baseball for Ellsbury.
The Sox’ lead didn’t last for long, however, as the Tigers struck back against Matt Albers, who has otherwise been having a tremendous spring. It’s hard to fault him, really, when you consider that it was Miguel Cabrera doing the dirty work, launching his own solo shot to lead off the seventh inning.
From there, though, the Sox needed only one swing to end it.
With Michael Bowden, Brandon Duckworth, Fu-Te Ni and Al Alburquerque holding the tie, the Sox found themselves in extra innings once again. The tie didn’t survive long after that, though. Leading off the tenth, Darnell McDonald welcomed Brad Thomas to the game with a game winning home run to left field.
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