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Next Stop: Fenway

Saturday, March 2, 2013 – Hammond Stadium, Ft. Myers

Red Sox 2, Twins 1

Saturday was my last day in southwest Florida, and it seemed the weather was trying to get me ready for my next game, which will be Opening Day at Fenway Park.  Despite being an afternoon game, it was only 57°, plus it was breezy and the sun never broke through.  So much for hitting the pool one last time when we got back!  The game was at the Twins’ Hammond Stadium, a few miles down the road from JetBlue Park, the first of 8 “Mayor’s Cup” games between the Ft. Myers rivals.

The weather at Hammond Stadium was more suited for Target Field or Fenway Park than southwest Florida.

The weather at Hammond Stadium was more suited for Target Field or Fenway Park than southwest Florida.

Clay Buchholz had tweaked his hamstring on the first day of pitchers and catchers’ workouts, so he was brought along more slowly and today was his first start.  He looked a little rusty, as one would expect, because he used up his 40-pitch pitch count in 1-1/3 innings, but the results were decent: 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2K.  The Red Sox got on the board first with an opposite-field home run by DH Juan Carlos Linares in the third.  Alfredo Aceves took over for Buchholz, and other than giving up a game-tying home run to Justin Morneau in the fourth, he pitched pretty well and wound up going 3-2/3 innings.  The Sox regained the lead in the fifth when Ryan Sweeney singled after two walks.

Top prospect Allen Webster pitched three innings.

Top prospect Allen Webster pitched three innings.

In the sixth, we got a look at Allen Webster, the highly-ranked prospect who came over in the blockbuster trade with the Dodgers last summer.  He’s 23 and pitched in Double A last year.  After starting off with a hit and a walk, he quickly got a double play, then got out of the inning on a fly ball.  At the end of the inning, enough people had left early that we decided to move down closer and sit behind the Red Sox dugout for the rest of the game.  Our original seats had just been metal benches.  They do have backs, but they’re not at all comfortable.  We moved down into actual stadium seats, but it was windier – at one point a discarded bag of cotton candy blew down an empty row of seats like tumbleweed – and I needed both the sweatshirt and light jacket that I had brought.  (The sun did break through just once, prompting a cheer from the crowd, but before the next at-bat it had disappeared again.)

Christian Vazquez got an at-bat in the ninth.

Christian Vazquez got an at-bat in the ninth.

Webster went two more innings.  He gave up a one-out single in the seventh, and then pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.  I know he’s going to need some time in Triple A before we can expect to see him in the majors, but he certainly came as advertised.  All the minor leaguers came in as subs in the late innings, but shortstop Deven Marrero became the only one who reached base when he singled in the ninth.  Jose de la Torre, who was preparing to play for Puerto Rico in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, closed it out with a 1-2-3 ninth, and my Florida trip was over.  My next game will be Fenway Park’s Opening Day, and I’ll be thrilled if it’s a 57° overcast day.

Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and shortstop Deven Marrero watch from the Red Sox dugout.

Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and shortstop Deven Marrero watch from the Red Sox dugout.

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