FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Mike Pelfrey pitched two scoreless innings in his spring debut as the Minnesota Twins beat the Boston Red Sox 8-2 on Friday.
“I wanted to work fast, pick up my tempo, and I thought I did a good job of that,” Pelfrey said. “And I wanted to throw some sliders, and I thought it was really, really good.”
Pelfrey struggled for much of last season, his first with the Twins, going 5-13 with a 5.19 ERA in 29 starts. Even though it’s still early in camp, he’s already been able to notice a difference in his performance from last season.
“I think I threw the slider today maybe six or seven times, and maybe four or five were strikes,” he said. “I don’t know if I threw six for strikes all spring training last year.”
“It’s definitely different. I don’t know what velocity was, but it was definitely better than last year. … I feel like I’m in a lot better place than I was at this time last year. I feel normal, I feel good.”
Pelfrey gave up one hit.
Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, the 39th overall pick in the 2010 draft, started for the Red Sox and threw two hitless innings, striking out four.
“I thought he was impressive,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Three pitches for strikes. He was aggressive through the strike zone. And when he leveraged his fastball downhill, he was able to generate some swing and miss. So an impressive two innings of work today for his first outing here.”
Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller walked three batters in the fifth inning and all of them scored, two on Chris Colabello’s double.
Mike Napoli got two hits for Boston. David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia each went 0 for 2.
Twins leadoff hitter Alex Presley, vying to be the starting center fielder, went 0 for 3.
STARTING TIME: Manager Ron Gardenhire noted the effort Pelfrey has made to improve his pace. “He gets it,” Gardenhire said. “He knows what he needs to do. Shorten the games, get the ball over. Pace of the game begins with you getting the ball on the mound and throwing it. That was fun to watch. He knew it.”
FOR THE RECORD: Twins left-hander Brian Duensing got the win, going one scoreless inning with one strikeout. Dalier Hinojosa, in his first season pitching outside of his native Cuba, took the loss. He went 1 2-3 innings, giving up three runs on four hits and a walk with three strikeouts.
TRAINER’S ROOM: Byron Buxton, the Twins’ top prospect, beat out an infield single in the sixth inning. He appeared to tweak a hamstring but stayed in the game. Gardenhire later said the center fielder was fine.
Miguel Sano, the Twins’ No. 2 prospect, was scheduled to have his right elbow examined after tweaking it making a throw during an intrasquad game on Thursday. Sano was diagnosed with a strained ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow this winter but was cleared to throw in spring training.
Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava, who had been sidelined for five days with a neck ailment, is expected to be in the lineup on Saturday.
Outfielder Corey Brown, who left Thursday’s game against Boston College after hurting his left hand on a swing, was examined Friday and had some swelling. He will be re-examined on Saturday.
THIS AND THAT: Jonny Gomes led off for the Red Sox. He is 3 for 13 batting leadoff in his career and has not hit in the first spot in the lineup since 2007 while with Tampa Bay. He is a candidate for Boston’s leadoff job. Farrell likes Gomes’ ability to get on base and have quality at-bats against both right-handers and left-handers.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE: The Red Sox held a somewhat lengthy pregame ceremony to introduce the World Series team in the home opener of their Grapefruit League schedule. Gardenhire did not mind.
“It was red carpet,” Gardenhire said. “We were entertained. We were laughing. They came out and said, âSorry, boys.’ But you know what, that’s what they earned. We got to sit out there and be a part of it. Hopefully it will make us want it a little more.”
SEEING RED: With the win, the Twins took a 1-0 lead in the quest for the annual Chairman’s Cup rivalry between the two Lee County foes, which began in 1993. Minnesota holds an overall 11-10 advantage. Both teams sported red jerseys, albeit different shades.