Quick hits: Twins 5, Red Sox 0

March, 5, 2010
The outcome: The Mayor’s Cup is pretty serious business around Lee County this time of year. The Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins share a winter home here, and when the sacred chalice is on the line, no one is safe.

Truth be told, the two clubs have fun fighting for the dubious honor each spring, especially the managers. After the Red Sox won the first of seven meetings between the two teams Thursday night, the Twins responded with a 5-0 victory on Friday.

When Red Sox skipper Terry Francona was meeting with the Boston writers in the lower concourse after the loss at Hammond Stadium, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire yelled from down the hall, “Hey, Tito. It’s one to one, baby.”

Francona did not appreciate the comment.

“That’s [crap],” responded Francona. “That really hurt to show me up in front of the media.”

There wasn’t much the Red Sox could do after starter Jon Lester allowed four runs on three hits, including two walks, in the bottom of the first inning. Minnesota pushed across another run in the bottom of the sixth inning off Dustin Richardson for a 5-0 final.

The Red Sox are the defending Mayor’s Cup champions.

The notable: It was Lester’s first start of the spring and he was scheduled for only one inning of work. He threw 33 pitches (16 strikes) and added an extra 14 in the bullpen afterward.

“He never got his legs under him,” said Francona. “He didn’t get in the flow of the game and struggled right from the get-go. It was a fight and there was no easing into spring training. That’s OK. You can learn from that and move on.”

Despite the numbers, Lester had no other issues.

“It was the first one of the year and it was nice to get it out of the way,” he said. “I would have liked to have done a little bit better, but I felt all right. Mechanically, I wasn’t missing by much. I threw a couple of good pitches and I’ll just build on those.”

The Sox’s southpaw was mainly working on his fastball command during the brief outing.

Lester was 15-8 with a 3.41 E.R.A in 32 starts for the Sox last season.

Prospect update: Even though the tag of “prospect” no longer is connected with Jed Lowrie, the infielder still has to prove his worth after battling a left-wrist injury the last two seasons. He had surgery to repair the damage last April and spent the majority of the season on the disabled list. He’s healthy this spring and Francona wants to find him as many at-bats as possible. While second baseman Dustin Pedroia stayed at City of Palms Park to take extra BP, Lowrie started at second against the Twins. The switch-hitter went 0-for-2.

“I think he’s feeling a bit of fatigue,” said Francona. “We’re trying to get him enough at-bats without giving him too much.”

Progress report: Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka threw a bullpen session Friday morning at City of Palms Park with Francona and pitching coach John Farrell looking on. Everyone was pleased with the session, especially given the fact he began spring training with back stiffness. He played long toss at 200 feet before he started the session with bullpen catcher Mani Martinez standing upright for the majority of it. The catcher got into the crouch position for the last 10 pitches, which were all fastballs. Matsuzaka said he had good command and good feel on his pitches. He’s scheduled to throw another bullpen session on Sunday.

“I think he’s doing great,” said Francona. “He felt really good about it, and John felt really good about it."

A look ahead: The Red Sox have a split-squad game on Saturday against the Rays at Port Charlotte, and home against the Twins.

John Lackey will make his Red Sox debut at home against Minnesota. Also pitching against the Twins will be: Michael Bowden, Manny Delcarmen, Brian Shouse, Joe Nelson and Junichi Tazawa.

The pitchers traveling to Port Charlotte are: Felix Doubront, Adam Mills, Kyle Weiland, Fabio Castro and Kris Johnson.

Etc.: Mike Cameron made his Red Sox spring debut and showed no ill effects from a groin strain he suffered late last week. He led off the game with a walk and tried to steal second, but was thrown out by Twins catcher Joe Mauer ... J.D. Drew got two at-bats as the club’s DH and went 0-for-2. He will play right field against the Twins on Saturday at City of Palms Park.

Joe McDonald

ESPN Staff Writer



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