Not sure this means much of anything, but Terry Francona used his relievers in this order tonight -- Romero, Donnelly, Pineiro. Bryan Corey was in there, too, but he'll be in Pawtucket to start the season. Pineiro allowed a leadoff single to Luis Rodriguez, then induced a grounder and two flyouts -- one of them to Fort Myers' own Tommy Watkins -- to nail down his first save of the spring. Again, hardly big league hitters there in the 9th, but he did come on with a one-run lead and got through it unscathed.
A few minutes later, Terry Francona confirmed that Mike Timlin, who's missed all spring with an oblique injury, won't be available until after the team's season-opening road trip. At the earliest, the manager said, Timlin won't see the field until the home opener April 10 against Seattle. That means he'll miss series in K.C. and Texas.
Now, this competition is still officially open, but you've gotta think Julian Tavarez is the frontrunner. He looked VERY good on Sunday in Fort Lauderdale, and because of his versatility, he'd appear to be the guy that can be slotted into that spot without disrupting the rest of the 'pen. Stay tuned, though, this is far from settled.
Enough of this closer babble -- the Sox just took a 2-1-1 advantage in the all-important Mayor's Cup standings. We could have a new winner -- or, gulp, a tie -- when the teams meet for the fifth and final time a week from tomorrow at Hammond. OK, exhale.
Josh Beckett's final line -- 5 IP, 6H, 4 ER, 8 K's. 80 pitches, 58 strikes. Beckett said afterward that he felt really good about his curveball, but said it might have been Monday's offday -- the only one of the spring -- for his rapid decline after starting so sharp. He said the finish wasn't crushing him, but acknowledged that this late in spring, pitchers are competing, and nobody wants to finish like that. He'll get one more start at full-bore, then he and the rest of the rotation will back down in their final starts of the spring so that they're fresh for the regular season (which, by the way, is sneakin' up on us here, huh?)
Of the regulars -- Lugo was 2-for-3 and scored a run; Ortiz was 1-for-2 with 3 RBI; Drew continues to pound the ball, going 2-for-3 tonight to raise his average to a blistering .440 this spring.
Dice-K pitches in a nationally-televised game against the Pirates in Bradenton tomorrow, then Tim Wakefield and Jonathan Papelbon are back to piggybacking on Thursday against the Phillies in Clearwater. Curt Schilling takes the mound at the next game here at COP, Friday afternoon against Baltimore. Until then...