TWINS SURGE AHEAD (3:14, BOT 7, 7-3)
Felix Doubrant has allowed the game to get away from the Sox giving up four runs in two innings.
Penny, meanwhile, was very optimistic about his outing down in the clubhouse. He said he feels better now than at any point last season, even Opening Day, which he started for the Los Angeles Dodgers. "Oh, yeah," Penny said. "I probably topped out at 89." Today, he reached 96 miles per hour on one pitch.
The Red Sox want to wait to make it official, but in Penny's mind, it's a closed issue: He knows he can start on April 12, the first date the Red Sox need a starter. No matter what, he's going to be with the Red Sox in Fenway Park for Opening Day, which he'll experience for the first time.
"Can't wait," he said. "Can't wait."
PENNY DONE (2:40, MID 6, 3-3)
The Red Sox have removed most of their starting lineup, most notably Penny. He had his ups and downs, but he looked sharp and strong with his velocity. The Red Sox want to wait and evaluate for a day or two before officially deciding Penny will start April 12, but his performance today likely did not hurt his chances. The Sox wanted him to throw about 80 pitches. He threw 79, 49 of which were strikes.
GASSING UP (2:26, END 5, 3-3)
After a quick half inning by the Red Sox, Penny retired the Twins in order. His fastball reached 95 mph on the outfield scoreboard radar gun in at bat against Matt Tolbert; Tolbert eventually popped foul, where Lowell made the catching while battling an foul ball-hungry fan. Youkilis made a nice play to end the inning, diving to stop a hot shot down the line by Span, then flipping to Penny.
PENNY RECOVERS (2:12, END 4, 3-3)
Just when Penny seemed to be unraveling, he got a double play ball from Carlos Gomez, then got Mike Redmond to easily ground out, too, ending the inning. He's still allowed three runs on five hits.
CUDDYER STRIKES AGAIN (2:07, BOT 4, 3-3)
After Kubel ripped a hard single to lead off, Cuddyer roped a double to center, over Ellsbury's head. Kubel raced around from first, and Cuddyer jogged easily to second. He needs a homer and a single for the cycle. He trotted home on Crede's sharp single. Not a good inning for Penny.
Varitek ended the Sox' half of the inning by grounding into a double play after Lowrie singled to right.
BAY BLASTS ONE (1:58, TOP 4, 3-1 SOX)
Bay looked awful in his first, but, as he's shown during his time in Boston, he has an uncanny knack for bouncing back from atbat to atbat. He flied a 1-0 Liriano offering down the line, just barely inside the leftfield fole pole and barely over the 330-foot marker. But it counted the same, and Drew, who had walked, also scored. Lowell followed with a bloop single just behind shortstop.
PENNY CRUISING (1:51, END 3, 1-1)
Penny rolled through the Twins, retiring Nick Punto, Denard Span, and Casilla in order. He got some help agains Casilla, who shot a grounder right back at him. The ball deflected off Penny continued back, looping high and into Pedroia's glove. Pedroia's made a quick, side arm throw while running away from first base to nab Casilla. Penny gave Pedroia a glove high-five on the way off the diamond.
NOTHING DOING (1:45, MID 3, 1-1)
Rapid inning for Liriano, who retired Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Ortiz in order. Ortiz tried to a check a swing, but couldn't and struck out.
PENNY DEALS (1:41, END 2, 1-1)
An easy, 1-2-3 inning for Penny. Gomez flied to left, Redmond flied to center, and Brendan Harris struck out swinging. In his first start, Penny said he rared back and let it go. In his last start, Penny said he tried to work more on off speed and toned down his velocity. He seems to be combining both today -- he's throwing 92-94 mph while mixing in a good number of splits and changes.
LOWRIE TIES IT UP (1:32, MID 2, 1-1)
After J.D. Drew walked and Mike Lowell singled to right, Jed Lowrie came to bat with two outs. He stroked a single to center. Carlos Gomez charged and fired home as Drew rounded third. His throw sailed about 20 feet to the third base side of home and scooted by catcher Mike Redmond, allowing Drew to score easily and Lowrie and Lowell to advance one base. Jason Varitek grounded out to second, stranding two men in scoring position.
SOME GOOD, SOME BAD (1:19, END 1, 1-0 TWINS)
Penny looked strong with his velocity, but the Twins still rapped him pretty hard on their way to the game's first run. Denard Span led off with a grounder to second. Alexi Casilla lined an opposite-field single to left. Penny's most impressive pitch came against the third batter of the inning, when struck out Jason Kubel on a chest-high, 94-mph fastball. Penny sat consistently at the 92-93-mph range with his fastball. Michael Cuddyer slugged a two-out, opposite-field triple to right, raking another 94-mph fastball. Joe Crede ended the inning by lining out to Youkilis at first.
LIRIANO ROLLS (1:09, MID 1, 0-0)
The Red Sox hit three home runs and scored seven runs in Francisco Liriano's last start, so there's still time. In the first, though, Jacoby Ellsbury struck out, Dustin Pedroia just got under a pitch and flied to right, and David Ortiz slammed a fly ball to the warning track in center, just to the left of the 405 sign. Here comes Brad Penny.