Red Sox pound Twins, 14-6, even the annual Chairman’s Cup series
There was plenty of offense to be had on a cool and breezy Wednesday afternoon at Hammond Stadium, as the Red Sox took care of the Twins 14-6 in Spring Training action.
The second of eight Chairman’s Cup games between the two squads that call Fort Myers home went to Boston (2-2), which exploded for 12 runs alone in the third and fourth innings.
Red Sox corner infielder and MLB Pipeline’s 93rd ranked prospect in baseball, Bobby Dalbec stole the show as he mashed two homers, both to right-center field, in the third and fourth innings.
The 6-foot-4, 25-year-old Dalbec collected three RBI on the afternoon and was a catalyst in Boston’s explosive fourth inning where the Red Sox pushed across eight runs before an out was recorded.
“It was fun to watch him on T.V., it’s a lot better to watch him in person,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who returns to the club this year after a season-long suspension from Major League Baseball. “He’s saying all the right things, he’s acting the right way — he’s a good baseball player. He cares about (the little things). The work he puts in is relentless. If he makes contact, good things are going to happen.”
Dalbec must have a thing for Hammond Stadium, as he’s belted three homers in two games there this spring.
All together, Boston collected 15 hits with contributors up and down the lineup.
Hitting leadoff this spring for the Sox is newly acquired Kiké Hernandez. The former Dodger went 2-for-2 with a walk at the top of the lineup; scorching two doubles to the left field corner, scoring a run and driving in a pair.
“He controls the strike zone,” Cora said of Hernandez. “I believe he can hit lefties and righties, and he’s not a swing and miss guy. The most important thing for him is when he gets ahead of the count, to not expand. I challenge him to do the job up there and push me to make a decision.”
Slugger J.D. Martinez and former Twin Marwin Gonzalez both drove in two runs while offseason acquisition Hunter Renfroe drove in three with a bases-clearing double as part of Boston’s big fourth inning.
“We have a good offensive team. We believe we’re going to score runs this year,” Cora said. “That was cool to see today – hitting the ball all over the place, running the bases well. All around it was a good offensive day.”
Before the Boston bats would get going, Twins (2-2) starter and two-time All Star José Berríos looked impressive in his spring debut, tossing two scoreless innings, striking out three and allowing just one hit. The 26-year-old right-hander looks to get back to his dominant ways after struggling in 12 starts last season, posting a 4.00 ERA.
“I feel like I’m really strong, really healthy,” Berríos said. “All in all, I think everything worked well today.”
Last season’s Opening Day starter was hitting his spots, mixing his pitches and showing solid velocity on his fastball and sinker that reached 95 mph. He said he was happy to get to pitch once again in front of fans.
“I think we need the fans out there supporting us, cheering for us or even the other team. That adrenaline brings extra energy for us.”
Opposing Berríos was 28-year-old right-hander Nick Pivetta, who joined the Red Sox this offseason from Philadelphia towards the end of last season.
Pivetta threw two innings allowing one run on one hit (a Mitch Garver homer), striking out one and earning the win.
“(My) command of the baseball was pretty good for the most part. Getting ahead of guys, getting some good contact on pitches, just feeling my delivery – everything felt good,” Pivetta said. “I’ve worked really hard in the weight room this offseason, worked hard on my mechanics, how I deliver pitches, commanding my pitches better, game planning better. I’m in a really good position right now and feeling really confident.”
The tall righty featured a fastball regularly around 96 mph, as well as a slider and knuckle curve. Pivetta, who had high expectations after being drafted by the Nationals, hasn’t quite found the success he might have hoped for. He said joining a new club and taking a different look at things has been a refresher for him. He’s also learned a lot from Sox pitching coach Dave Bush.
“Anytime you get a fresh perspective on how you do things, everything is really helpful and you’ve got to digest and apply it to yourself,” Pivetta said. “The relationship that I have with Bush has been really good. It’s nice to be around new guys and a new organization. It’s been a breath or fresh air. I’m really excited for the season.”
Before all was said and done, the Twins scored four runs in the fifth inning, highlighted by a Nelson Cruz no-doubt homer to left which he took some time to admire before rounding the bases.
Cruz, who will turn 41 on July 1st, is an ageless wonder at the plate, who in 2019 belted 41 homers and drove in 108 runs (he hit 16 homers with 33 RBI in 53 games last season). The “Boomstick” is an important piece for a Minnesota team looking to win the AL Central once again.
The two teams will next meet this Saturday at Jet Blue Park. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m.
— Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj