The Red Sox remained unbeaten this spring after taking Game 2 of the 2023 Chairman’s Cup from the Twins on Friday afternoon. Boston defeated Minnesota, 9-4, at Hammond Stadium to improve to 5-0-2 in Grapefruit League play.
Matched up against Sonny Gray to begin things on Friday, the Red Sox lineup got off to a quick start by putting up a three-spot in the top half of the first inning. After reaching base on a one-out single and advancing 90 feet on a pickoff error, Alex Verdugo scored his side’s first run on an RBI single off the bat of Justin Turner.
Turner himself moved up to second on a Minnesota fielding error that allowed Triston Casas to reach base before scoring on a two-out single from Bobby Dalbec. Casas, who advanced to third on that play, then came in to score when Reese McGuire reached on yet another fielding error committed by the Twins.
That sequence gave Boston an early 3-0 lead right out of the gate, but Minnesota was able to get two of those runs back an inning later. James Paxton, who retired the side in order in his first inning of work this spring, recorded the first two outs of the second before exiting the game with a right hamstring injury. He was replaced by fellow left-hander Rio Gomez, who issued a five-pitch walk to Joey Gallo before serving up a two-run home run to Kyle Farmer.
Despite seeing their three-run advantage shrink to one-run, the Red Sox continued to capitalize on Twins mistakes in their half of the third. After Turner and Casas each reached with no outs and Dalbec loaded the bases with a one-out single, McGuire came through by crushing a 395-foot grand slam off reliever Emilio Pagan to make it a 7-2 contest in favor of Boston.
Again, though, Minnesota retaliated. John Schreiber took over for Gomez in the bottom of the third and filled the bases with one out before spiking a wild pitch that allowed Eliot Soto to come in from third. Michael A. Taylor then grounded out to to Enmanuel Valdez at second base, which gave old friend Christian Vazquez more than enough time to score from third and trim the Twins’ deficit down to three runs at 7-4.
Following a scoreless fourth inning from Ryan Sherriff, Casas picked up where he left off by leading off the fifth with a 400-foot solo blast to deep right field for his second home run of the spring. Brandon Walter then came out of the bullpen for Boston and struck out three over two scoreless frames of relief. Fellow southpaw Chris Murphy followed that up by stranding two base runners and punching out the side in the seventh.
In the eighth, former Twins catcher Caleb Hamilton took Brock Stewart 438 feet deep over the berm in left field for his first big fly in a Red Sox uniform. Taking a 9-4 lead into the latter half of the frame, Murphy got the first two outs before loading the bases on a single and back-to-back walks. Norwith Gudino came in and promptly escaped the jam by fanning Soto on three consecutive sliders.
With three more outs to get in the ninth, Gudino picked up two more punchouts to slam the door on the Twins and record the save in doing so.
More on Paxton’s start:
Prior to leaving the game with a trainer, Paxton had already retired the first five batters he had faced on Friday. The 34-year-old southpaw struck out one over 1 2/3 innings of work while throwing 20 pitches (12 strikes). His fastball topped out at 94.7 mph, per Baseball Savant.
Next up: Pivetta makes spring debut
The Red Sox will return to JetBlue Park to host the Astros on Saturday afternoon. Nick Pivetta, who came into camp still on the mend following a recent bout with COVID-19, will make his first start of the year for Boston. Fellow right-hander Shawn Dubin is slated to start for Houston.
First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Reese McGuire: Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)