Escobar drives in 3, Nolasco sharp as Twins beat Red Sox 5-2
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) Eduardo Escobar drove in three runs, adding to his torrid spring, and Ricky Nolasco tossed three solid innings to help the Minnesota Twins beat the Boston Red Sox 5-2 on Friday night.
Escobar, batting .344 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 18 games, hit a two-run double off Boston starter Brian Johnson in the third. In the fifth, Escobar connected for another long double to left field that banged off the top of the Green Monster, driving in Shane Robinson.
In his final tuneup before the regular season, Nolasco bounced back from a tough outing, allowing one run and four hits with one strikeout. The right-hander gave up four runs in six innings against a Baltimore split squad on Sunday.
''The last one's always tough,'' Nolasco said. ''It's always tough to mentally get prepared for it knowing you're already ready and knowing you just want to finish spring training and just kind of get through it. So, that was my mindset today - just get through it, work on a couple of last things that I wanted to do.''
Mike Napoli hit his sixth homer for Boston, a shot to right-center off reliever Brian Duensing.
The Red Sox concluded their home spring training schedule with their 63rd consecutive sellout of 10,087 at JetBlue Park, dating back to its opening in 2012.
TWINS TURN TO PELFREY
With No. 2 starter Ervin Santana suspended Friday for 80 games without pay for violating baseball's performance-enhancing drug policy, Minnesota will turn to veteran right-hander Mike Pelfrey to try to fill the void in its rotation.
Santana, who signed the richest free-agent contract in franchise history in December - a $55 million, four-year deal - tested positive for the banned substance Stanozolol.
First-year manager Paul Molitor said Pelfrey will be moved from the bullpen into the fifth spot and start against the Chicago White Sox on April 11. Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone and Nolasco will all be bumped up behind No. 1 starter Phil Hughes.
Pelfrey was originally scheduled to throw two innings against Boston, but instead will stay behind to work in a minor league game Sunday. He finished with a 1.15 ERA in six exhibition appearances.
''I called Mike in to tell him what our plan was for him,'' Molitor said. ''Obviously, he was hoping to get an opportunity to start here, and when we bring people in and we have to tell them that they're being sent down, or they're not filling the role that they had hoped to, we always talk about, be ready.
''And sometimes,'' he added, ''it's going to happen faster than you think.''
Twins: Nolasco threw 48 pitches, 30 for strikes.
Red Sox: Johnson yielded seven hits and five runs in 4 2-3 innings. He walked one and struck out seven.
Red Sox C Sandy Leon, acquired from Washington in a trade on Monday, had an unnerving moment in the seventh. After throwing out a runner trying to steal second base, Leon grimaced in pain while shaking his right arm. Following a brief visit from manager John Farrell and a team trainer, though, Leon remained in the game. . Boston closer Koji Uehara (strained left hamstring) and RHP Joe Kelly (biceps) will start the season on the disabled list, Farrell said. But both could be activated as soon as April 11.
With Pablo Sandoval on third and one out in the second, Twins first baseman Reynaldo Rodriguez made a diving stop, got up and hustled to the bag to take away an RBI single from Brock Holt.
Sandoval scored one batter later, however, on a line drive by Shane Victorino that ricocheted off second baseman Doug Bernier's glove.
Boston optioned right-handers Matt Barnes and Brandon Workman to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Justin Masterson will oppose Gibson on Saturday in Fort Myers in the final spring training game for both teams. Masterson, who signed a one-year, $9.5 million contract with Boston in December, has allowed nine runs - seven earned - with six walks and nine strikeouts in five starts.