With the win, the Red Sox (1-0) took the first game of the Fort Myers Mayor's Cup and will face the Twins (1-1) again tomorrow down the road at Hammond Stadium. The two teams will face each other four more times.
After a really nice gesture by the Red Sox in holding a pregame ceremony for team legends Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, Luis Tiant and Carl Yastrzemski, it was time to 'play ball', as a Fort Myers resident proclaimed at the new JetBlue Park.
Josh Beckett made his spring training debut for the Red Sox, and looked really good in his two innings of work. Beckett gave up only one hit and walked two and kept the Twins off the scoreboard through two innings. Beckett, liked Jon Lester did yesterday, looked to have shaken off most of the rust that accumulated in the offseason.
Andrew Miller did more of the same, as the lanky left hander pitched for two innings after Beckett and walked only one and struck out three. This was definitely something Red Sox fans want to see more of from the former first round selection and fifth starter competitor.
The Red Sox offense was kept in check by Francisco Liriano (2 IP, H, BB, 2 K) and Jared Burton (1 IP, 0 H) through three innings, but came to life in the fourth. Adrian Gonzalez and Cody Ross both reached base so that Mike Aviles could drive them in with a two-run single off Phil Dumatrait. With it, the Red Sox took a 2-0 lead.
Minnesota got one back in the top of the fifth off set up man Mark Melancon, who gave up back to back singles to begin the inning. Ben Revere brought home the run with an RBI groundout. Not exactly a perfect outing for Melancon, who pitched an inning and gave up the one run, but it's something to build off of.
After Minnesota tied the game in the seventh inning off another Ben Revere RBI off Red Sox reliever Tony Pena Jr, Boston broke the game open with a five run bottom of the seventh. The big highlight of the inning came from Lars Anderson, who knocked a Jason Bulger pitch into the right field bleachers for a grand slam. Good way to build trade value, if I may add. Red Sox took a 7-2 lead into the eighth.
After an Oscar Tejada RBI triple for Boston and a Darin Mastroianni RBI double for Minnesota, Scott Atchison closed the door and preserved an 8-3 win for the Red Sox.
The Red Sox and Twins will go at it again tomorrow, with Clay Buchholz expected to get the start for Boston. He will be opposed by Jason Marquis.
Josh Beckett and Jon Lester have both taken big steps towards putting this Chicken n' Beer business behind them. Their two shutout innings without any trouble should mean good, early news for Red Sox fans... Lars Anderson is helping himself out as well as the Red Sox. There's no tension there I bet, it's just that both the team and Lars need to ultimately part. If Anderson keeps hitting as good as he did today, there could be a suitor that could phone Ben Cherington fairly soon... Mark Melancon's rough inning shouldn't be looked on to heavily. It's early, and relief pitchers are often the slowest in finding their personas. He should still be a valuable commodity out of the bullpen in 2012.