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Battle for the Mayor’s Cup

Sunday, February 27, 2011 – Hammond Stadium, Ft. Myers

Twins 8, Red Sox 4

The Red Sox took on the Minnesota Twins on a warm night in Ft. Myers.

The Red Sox took on the Minnesota Twins in the first Grapefruit League game on a warm night in Ft. Myers.

After getting warmed up with the college games on Saturday, Sunday brought the long, grueling journey to the other side of Ft. Myers (and anyone who’s ever sat through those red lights knows I’m only half-kidding) as the Red Sox visited the Twins for the first of five Mayor’s Cup games.  We arrived early, as usual, and I found a spot at the end of the concourse that overlooked the visiting team’s parking lot.  I hadn’t known about that for my previous trips to Hammond Stadium, but I camped out there for a while to see who came in.  Terry Francona and DeMarlo Hale walked in first, and when someone shouted, “2011 World Champions,” Tito looked up and waved.  Some of the coaches, including Dave Magadan, followed, with Scott Atchison arriving a few minutes later.  I knew from previous years that when they play the Twins, the Red Sox warm up and take batting practice at City of Palms Park, and then just the players who are scheduled for that day’s game go over to Hammond Stadium at the last minute.  Eventually a bus pulled up with a bunch of the younger players, like Daniel Nava, Ryan Kalish, and Oscar Tejeda.  I figured the bus must be there for anyone who wants it, but the veterans must drive themselves over.  I waited until about 6:25 (for a 7:05 game) before getting something to eat and heading to my seat, but I didn’t see any of the other starters come in.

Terry Francona arrives at the game.

Terry Francona arrives at the game.

It was nice to have a nine-inning game played under normal rules, and as a result it was much easier to keep score.  Josh Beckett started and went two innings.  His first inning was quick and smooth, but he gave up some hard hits in the second.  There was a double and a triple, and only a great ranging, leaping catch of a line drive by shortstop Jose Iglesias prevented further damage.  Clay Buchholz took over after that and had a really good two innings, with three popups, two groundouts, and a strikeout.  Hideki Okajima got knocked around (four runs on five hits, including a bases-loaded triple), and Dan Wheeler’s debut did not impress (he gave up a homer and a double, but was helped by another good play in the field – Daniel Nava to Iglesias to Mark Wagner – to throw a runner out at the plate).  After a quick, efficient 1-2-3 inning from Atchison, Brandon Duckworth allowed another two runs in the eighth.

Clay Buchholz had a strong outing.

Clay Buchholz had a strong outing.

On the offensive side, Mike Cameron beat out an infield hit and stole a base after reaching on a fielder’s choice.  It’s good to finally see what he’s capable of when he’s healthy, because we never got to see that last year.  There wasn’t much else going on early in the game while the Red Sox fell in a 6-0 hole.  But the subs gave us things to cheer for late in the game – Lars Anderson and Mark Wagner both homered, Oscar Tejeda hit a double, and Josh Reddick drove in a run.  Ryan Kalish also stole a base.

Mike Cameron had a good night at the plate and on the basepaths.

Mike Cameron had a good night at the plate and on the basepaths.

While the game resulted in the Twins gaining an early advantage in the Mayor’s Cup, the night wasn’t a total waste.  We did get to see some good pitching, a couple of good defensive plays, and good hitting by the prospects.  And we even got two free grapefruits when we left.  (That’s a promotion the Twins do every year at their first game.  But all the other times we’ve gone to their first game, all the grapefruits were gone when we left at the end of the game, given away to the people who bailed early while we who always stay to the end got nothing to show for it.  I was prepared this time to once again be a victim of what I’ve dubbed “The Great Minnesota Grapefruit Scam,” so I was pleasantly surprised that they had enough for everyone this time.)

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