Hammond Stadium to Jet Blue Park is a tad longer than five miles for the continuation of the Battle for Fort Myers as the Twins faced the Red Sox. The Red Sox walked away with a 5-4 win thanks to a walk-off home run by Rusney Castillo.
Wade Miley for Boston and Tommy Milone for the Twins faced off in a battle of left-handers that certainly didn’t bring latent memories of Sandy Koufax versus Warren Spahn to the surface. For Miley it was more of a tune-up, but for Milone it represented an opportunity to secure the fifth slot in the rotation. For both it was not spectacular nor was it a bottom out disaster.
The Twins popped up on the scoreboard first when Eduardo Escobar launched a Miley pitch over the faux Green Monster in left field. The Red Sox soon had their turn in the last of the third.
With one out veteran catcher Humberto Quintero singled and was brought around on (who else) a Mookie Betts double. A Dustin Pedroia single pushed Mookie to third where he came in with run number two on a David Ortiz force out. Miley, being the generous sort, quickly gave it back in the fourth along with the lead.
The Red Sox tied it up in the last of the fourth.
With Miley and Milone done for the day the game was turned over to the bullpens. With Boston, of late, this is similar to turning over the family fortune to Bernie Madoff. Edward Mujica, the closer apparent, gave up his obligatory run and the lead on a triple and a single. The only bright spot was the Twins hauling in Tim Stauffer for another inning of work.
The long time Padre quickly loaded them up and with two outs and a Stauffer walk to Allen Craig brought in a run and a new pitcher, Mark Hamburger, for the Twins. I will forgo any “Hamburger Helper” comments, but he did get Rusney Castillo on three pitches for the punch out and earned himself another inning.
Both teams went into that most disliked mode of spring training – extra innings. That was settled thanks to Castillo teeing off on Jake Reed for the game winner.
* Betts is now hitting .472 and Jackie Bradley is at .389.
*Twins starter Milone hit a three-run home run on the first pitch in his first MLB at bat. Since then Milone has gone 3-26.
* Jordan Schafer, the Twins starting center fielder, also hit a home run in his first MLB at bat, but not on the first pitch. Schafer also has an ignominious place in baseball history for being the first player suspended by the MLB Department of Investigations. The HGH suspension came in 2008 while Schafer was a member of the Braves farm system.
* David Ortiz’ first game back was an 0-3 with an RBI. No IV’s were needed.
Nothing special presented by Mr. Miley in his six innings of work. Miley gave up four hits, including a home run, while allowing three runs – all earned. Miley walked a batter and struck out four. His spring training ERA now sits at 3.71 and what you see is what you will possibly get during the season. Keep the game reasonably close, depend on the lumber to get you on the board, and turn it over to a bullpen that has had the spring shakes. If you use quality starts as a measuring tool then Miley earned a QS notch.
Alexi Ogando has just about cemented a place in the bullpen. The question is just where will that place be? Tommy Layne pitched a ninth inning and kept the Twins off the board despite relinquishing a hit and a wild pitch. Layne also had two K’s. Junichi Tazawa went a clean tenth inning and got the win. Grade would be higher if the ‘pen could have held serve.
Quintin Berry went 2-2 and just maybe got the attention of someone in need of a role player at the MLB level. So I’ll give the props to Berry instead of Castillo. Rusney will have more than his share in 2015. The LOB figure for Boston was ten and that means that a key hit anywhere could have turned this game.
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