FORT LAUDERDALE -- Though David Murphy left the bases loaded twice and Mike Lowell once, the Sox pulled off a 2-1 win over the Orioles today at Fort Lauderdale Stadium on a breezy cool day.
Sox pitching remained steady as once again Kason Gabbard pitched three scoreless innings as his stock continues to rise. The left-hander said, "My confidence right now is through the roof." And manager Terry Francona said Gabbard has every right to feel that way. Gabbard said he had good control over his change-up and was able to locate his fastball well.
"As long as he throws strikes and gets his breaking ball over, he's going to be fine," Francona said.
The other good sign was the one scoreless inning pitched by Kyle Snyder, who is now starting his relief role after being a starter. Snyder, who struck out two (both on curve balls) is out of options and it would appear the Red Sox would like to keep Snyder instead of losing him on waivers, where a team looking for a back-end starter would surely jump.
Francona wants Snyder to remain a four-pitch pitcher, and Snyder said he threw everything but his slider in the one inning. Snyder said he feels he can be an effective reliever and would have no problem pitching back-to-back days. He also said he would not need the 35 or so pitches needed to warm up being a starter.
Another potential candidate for the bullpen, right-hander Bryan Corey, allowed Boston only run in his one inning of work. He had allowed only one run in his previous eight innings of work and he remains a darkhorse to land the seventh bullpen slot.
Veteran Julian Tavarez also pitched three scoreless innings, while Mike Burns got the save retiring the O's in the ninth.
Back-to-back doubles by Joe McEwing and Alberto Castillo, accounted for Boston's first run in the fifth. The winning run came in on a throwing error after another McEwing hit in the sixth.
In other Sox news:
Francona yelled back "You have a lot of (expletive) nerve having tendinitis. You can't throw 90 feet."
"Schilling ate your second baseman," Millar shot back. "That's unbelievable. When I looked at the picture (of Schilling's stomach), I couldn't find Dustin."
All kidding aside, Francona said that Millar was a unique player in that he had a tremendous knack of being able to settle a clubhouse and put out little brush fires along the way.
Millar, who re-signed with the Orioles for one year, said he's still saddened that the 2004 team was broken up.
"One hundred percent," Millar said. "Theo did a great job with the talent in '03 and '04 and '05. But in '06 it just didn't work out. Asked whether the Sox could have won multiple championships if the '04 team had stayed together, "I don't know but it didn't work out in '06. What ever they tried to do in '06 didn't work. The group they had those three years worked."
Millar says he stays in touch with all of his former teammates including Johnny Damon.
"We do our text messaging and we rag on each other back and forth, "Millar said. "Whether it's Schilling or Mirabelli or Varitek. It's a group that will always be remembered."
Millar said he's starting to see a similar mix of players on the Orioles and feels the Orioles could emerge, but he said it's fair to consider them the fourth place team until they prove differently.