Twins get in their final day of work before going north.
The biggest news coming out after today's game is that the final roster decisions have been made. First, Clay Condrey will be the final bullpen arm. Ron Mahay, who gave up a pair of runs off of three hits and a walk to take the loss, probably didn't help his case today but the reality is this decision was based more on Condrey than anything Mahay could have done.
Decision number two? Nick Punto will be the opening day starter at third base. That's not much of a surprise--a Punto/Brendan Harris platoon is what we all expected.
In the game, Nick Blackburn worked well until he got himself into a jam in the fifth. A couple of Texas League singles and a seeing-eye grounder caused most of the damage, and Boston's three-run inning gave them the lead and ultimately put them in a good position to win the game as the Twins had already removed most of their starters by that point. Blackburn's final line wasn't impressive, but he pitched better than the numbers. It just goes to show you what a couple of ill-timed flairs can do.
Jim Thome gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in the second inning by launching his third homer of the spring. It's still just a little strange to see The Gentleman in a Twins uniform.
Alexi Casilla grounded into a pivotal double play in the later innings, but he also made a nice running over-the-shoulder catch in foul territory in right field. Venezuelan outfielder/infielder Yangervis Solarte went 1-for-1 with a walk and a nice stab at third base. James Beresford, who took over for J.J. Hardy at short, delivered a big two-run single in the sixth that temporarily tied the game at three.
Jose Mijares struggled to throw strikes again today, and was more or less bailed out by Boston's good will and penchant for swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone. Mijares walked two, but all three balls put into play were flies that all turned into outs. I'm not sure whether it's his vision, his weight or what, but today he didn't look like the caliber of pitcher who could content for the closer's role.
One final note: Nomar Garciaparra isn't a bad guy to listen to on-air. He gave some occasional insight on things like base running and told a story about basically being mesmerized by Pedro Martinez, but more than that: he enjoyed himself, didn't take himself too seriously and got along very well with the rest of the crew. He also, during an interview mid-game, told Jason Kubel not to tell Thome that he (Kubel) admired Thome growing up.
No studs and duds for today's game--it's the last of the spring, and everyone's fate for at least Opening Day is sealed. It was good seeing Jacque Jones pick up a single on a swinging bunt and seeing Joe Benson get a few innings in the field, but it's time to move forward.
I'll see you tomorrow for the first Twins game in Target Field!