Observations from Red Sox' rout of Twins: Mike Napoli clubs broken bat homer, offense explodes, Justin Masterson commands

Mike Petraglia
March 30, 2015 - 6:31 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As spring training games go, Monday night's 14-2 pummeling of the crosstown Twins was about as good as it gets for the Red Sox. Exactly one week before the season opener in Philadelphia, John Farrell rolled out a lineup that fans can expect to see against the Phillies (and hopefully most of the season). And that lineup produced just as Red Sox management hoped when they put together the new offense over the winter. Leadoff hitter Mookie Betts continued his scorching spring with two more hits, including an RBI double high off the Monster in a six-run fourth. He scored twice and is now batting .467 on the spring. Mike Napoli looks as comfortable as anyone in the lineup not named Betts. He has also carried a blazing bat in spring, even when he's breaking it in half and homering as was the case in the fourth. He muscled up and clubbed a solo homer that carried over the Monster. The barrel of the bat wound up in the dirt next to the third base bag and he ran around it as he circled the bases on his fourth homer of the spring. "It's never happened before," Napoli said of the broken bat round-tripper. "I think I broke it on my at-bat before when I hit the ball to right. I wasn't sure but I thought I hit it on the barrel. It was just a weird feeling. The bat exploded and I was just kind of sitting there. It's a weird feeling anytime you do that. I don't know. I can't really explain it. "I was just kind of running around the bases like, 'What just happened?'" Napoli, with two hits Monday, is now batting .433 with an .867 slugging percentage in 13 games. "I feel good. My hands are getting stronger," Napoli said. "My timing is getting good. Just working hard every day in the cage and my BPs and just trying to take it into the games." The solo shot must've inspired the rest of the order as Shane Victorino followed with a double. It was the second of seven straight hits by Red Sox regulars off a Twins staff comprised mostly of relievers for the game. In all, the Red Sox had consecutive RBI hits from Xander Bogaerts, Humberto Quintero, Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz in the six-run fourth. "We hope to do that a lot," Napoli said. "I think we're capable of doing that a lot, just with the guys we have in our lineup. It's deep, one through nine. We expect to do stuff like that. We're going to try to feed off each other and go from there." "Good night offensively," manager John Farrell added. "Obviously, with Nap, I thought [Bogaerts] had better at-bats tonight. The timing is starting to become a little bit more consistent. Nap's been in a pretty good place all spring, particularly some balls to the pull side that might not have come the past couple of years until we get into April or a little bit deeper into the season." After his seventh strikeout of spring, Ortiz broke out of a mini-slump with an RBI single in the third that got the scoring underway. He followed that with a smooth swing that produced a sinking liner to left-center, scoring Dustin Pedroia. He finished 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, bringing his average up to .259 this spring in 10 games. Masterson allowed five hits and one run over his 5 2/3 innings and ended his night on a strong note when he got Torii Hunter to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. The starter who projects to start the season as a starter somewhere behind Clay Buchholz and Rick Porcello struck out four and walked one while generating seven ground ball outs. He could've had an eighth except for a rare Pedroia error in the third. "Just able to continually get ground balls," Masterson said. "Some nice fly balls that I got some good plays by guys in the field. But overall, got some ground balls when we needed to, if it didn't always go at the guy. It was still on the ground. That's perfect. That's what I want to see." The play of the night was a running, twisting catch by Mookie Betts to end the fourth inning on a fly to straightaway center by Trevor Plouffe. "Combination of feeling good and feeling strong and having, for the most part, hitting my spots," Masterson said. "Just moving in that right direction, able to make a few adjustments, had a really long inning [by the offense] and coming back and getting the rhythm, getting the feel and staying within the mechanics and it worked out really good." "I think anytime he starts to extend his outings, six times up and down, getting close to 100 pitches," Farrell said. "He's been able to maintain his stuff deeper into that pitch-count range. He's always going to be a guy that has a pretty wide range of velocity but because of the action and sink, and his breaking ball is starting to tighten up a little bit more with each outing. Tonight was a solid performance by him."
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