Napoli's strong spring continues but Red Sox fall to Twins

Napoli's strong spring continues but Red Sox fall to Twins

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Hot-hitting third baseman Eduardo Escobar stroked two doubles, had three RBI's and scored a run as the Minnesota Twins defeated the Boston Red Sox 5-2 on Friday night before a sellout crowd of 10,087 at JetBlue Park.

Shane Robinson scored two runs for Minnesota, and Chris Herrmann added an RBI single in his first game since learning he had won the Twins' backup catcher job.

Escobar upped his Grapefruit League average to an impressive .350 with his performance against Boston.

On a night when Minnesota was in need of some good news on the pitching front, Ricky Nolasco delivered.

The Twins' right-hander allowed one earned run in three solid innings of work against a batting order that, with the exception of shortstop Brock Holt, will be the lineup that Boston will probably use on Opening Day.

"It's not a fun lineup to face, obviously," Nolasco said after allowing four hits and striking out one without walking a batter.. "They've got a lot of big boys over there.

"Then again, I've been on the road all spring so I've faced everybody's big boys. But it does feel pretty decent to throw a good line against that lineup."

Boston starter Brian Johnson retired eight consecutive Twins to begin his outing. But things got considerably more difficult the second time through the order as eight of the last 12 batters he faced reached base safely.

The 24-year-old left-hander pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing 7 hits and 5 earned runs despite recording 7 strikeouts. He walked one batter, Robinson, who eventually scored.

Mike Napoli hit his second home run in as many games with a fourth-inning smash to right off Twins' reliever Brain Duensing. The veteran first baseman has had a tremendous spring for Boston, hitting .421 with six home runs in 16 games.

Pablo Sandoval doubled and scored on a two-out single by Shane Victorino in the second to give Boston it's only lead of the night.

Up Next: The Red Sox and Twins will wrap up their respective Grapefruit League seasons on Saturday at Hammond Stadium in a 1:05 p.m. ET matchup, which you can watch live on MLB.TV. Kyle Gibson, who has held opposing hitters to a .186 batting average in 19 2/3 innings of work this spring, will take the ball for the Twins as he prepares to face the Tigers next Wednesday in Detroit. Justin Masterson, who held the Twins to one earned run over 5 2/3 innings earlier this week, will start for Boston as he tunes up for his Thursday start against Philadelphia.

Michael Kolligan is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.