Pelfrey, Twins fall to Red Sox in final spring game
Minnesota heads home, faces rival Detroit on Opening Day on Monday
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Next time, it counts.
Before heading for the airport to begin the regular season, though, the Red Sox and Twins had one more Lee County faceoff to play. In a game that had all the hallmarks of an early Grapefruit League contest -- the top four hitters on each team were gone by the end of the fourth inning, for example -- Boston prevailed, 4-2, at JetBlue Park on Saturday afternoon.
On Monday, Boston opens against the arch-rival Yankees in New York, while the Twins host the defending American League champion Tigers.
Left-hander Felix Doubront, penciled in as the No. 4 starter in the Red Sox rotation, pitched himself in and out of trouble. He went five innings and stranded eight runners -- four in scoring position -- while allowing six hits and a walk and hitting a batter. He also struck out six.
In the top of the first, Twins leadoff hitter Aaron Hicks lined out, then three of the next four batters singled to load the bases before Doubront struck out Wilkin Ramirez looking. In the second, Jacoby Ellsbury made a nice running catch on the warning track in center to rob Dan Rohlfing. Then Doubront gave up a double to Brian Dozier and walked ninth-place hitter Pedro Florimon before once again shutting the door.
In the meantime, the Red Sox were having a little more success against Mike Pelfrey, one of three new starters for the Twins, along with Vance Worley and Kevin Correia. He's scheduled to start the third game of the season against the Tigers on Thursday.
Ellsbury led off the bottom of the first with an infield hit, went to second on a one-out grounder and scored when Mike Napoli singled off the replica Green Monster in left. The inning ended when Napoli was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double.
Boston tacked on a run in the second after Will Middlebrooks got things started with a single up the middle. Middlebrooks stole second with two outs and came home on a single to left by Daniel Nava.
The Red Sox took control of the game in the fourth on Shane Victorino's two-out, bases-loaded single that scored a pair. That ended Pelfrey's day. He allowed four runs on nine hits and hit a batter in 3 2/3 innings.
"I wanted to work on my slider; I get beat on that a lot," Pelfrey said. "That's my fourth-best pitch. And I gave up four or five hits on my slider today. That's probably why it is my fourth-best pitch."
Said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire: "He got his innings in, let's just put it that way. His pace was nowhere. He was working on some things, so you've got to give him that. But as the season goes on, he's got to get a pace. He's a work in progress, let's put it that way."
The Twins got on the board in the eighth on Brian Dinkelman's RBI single off Andrew Bailey, scoring Harold Garcia. Eduardo Escobar drove in a run off Joel Hanrahan in the ninth on a fielder's choice.
Of course, it didn't really count. Next time, it will.
Up next: Worley, acquired in a December trade with the Phillies, will be on the mound Monday for Opening Day against the Tigers and Justin Verlander at Target Field. First pitch is scheduled for 3:10 p.m. CT. Minnesota's first three starters all pitched for other teams last season. Correia (Pirates) will start the second game on Wednesday and Pelfrey (Mets) will start on Thursday.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.