Minnesota Twins Lose to Red Sox: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Mar 22, 2014; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier (2) slides into third base safety during a game against the New York Yankees at Hammond Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 22, 2014; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier (2) slides into third base safety during a game against the New York Yankees at Hammond Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

Minnesota Twins Lose Spring Training Home Opener to Red Sox 6-5.

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Last night’s Spring Training home opener at the CenturyLink Sports Complex showed us some promising flashes, some brilliant defense (albeit by the Red Sox), and some downright awful relief pitching by two guys looking to be in the mix when the team breaks camp.

Tyler Duffey looked good on a short leash, but his 35-pitch pitch count only afforded him 6 batters, collecting 4 outs (1 K, 1BB, 1H) before giving way to Jake Reed who induced a double play to quickly get out of the second.

Also shining early was Brian Dozier, who lined an opposite field shot into the right field corner and looked to have an easy triple before Boston’s Bryce Brentz lasered a throw from deep in the corner all the way to third baseman Travis Shaw‘s glove for an out. Dozier had 3 hits on the night, all hit to the opposite field, with two doubles.

Miguel Sano crushed Red Sox starter Rick Porcello‘s fastball to deep right center leading off the second inning, just missing his first home run of the spring by a few feet. Sano settled for a double, and after Trevor Plouffe moved Sano to third on a grounder, Byung-ho Park stepped to the plate.

Park, if you recall, struck out 3 times in the Grapefruit League opener the night before. Park wasted no time, jumping on the first pitch to single sharply to right center to drive home Sano. Park also swung and connected hard (for a groundout) in his next at-bat on the first pitch in the 4th inning. He finished the night 1-3 with an RBI.

Ricky Nolasco, looking to make the club as a long-reliever/spot starter, did not fare well his first time out this spring. After facing 4 men in the 3rd inning, the top of the fourth showcased poor pitching and a heavy dose of Sano’s fielding.

Nolasco allowed a line drive double to lead off the inning was followed by a walk. The next batter, Brennan Boesch, smashed another liner that Sano perhaps could have caught, leading to another double, a run, and runners on 2nd and 3rd. With the next batter grounding out to score a run instead of a double play, Nolasco while not sharp, likely deserved better than the 3 earned runs allowed in 1 1/3 innings pitched.

But these innings, and line drives, are what Miguel Sano needs to see this Spring Training to get experience, to get better. If the Sano outfield experiment continues like this on a nightly basis, we’ll see how long it takes to pull the plug. But Sano also shows amazing athleticism and a powerful arm, so it will take a massive failure to move him back to the infield.

As far as the game went, the 6th inning provided wholesale changes to personnel on both sides. Trailing 3-1, the Twins used the unlikely offensive combo of Carlos Quentin and Danny Santana to score two runs in each of the 6th and 7th innings, including a 2-run home run by Santana in the 6th.

After Nolasco’s outing, the Minnesota Twins bullpen threw 3 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, getting 3 strikeouts versus just one walk. Logan Darnell, Glen Perkins, Casey Fien, and Aaron Thompson all acquitted themselves nicely. Non-roster invitees (Reed, Darnell, Thompson) ended the night pitching to just 5 batters, getting 7 outs (Reed & Darnell facing 1 batter each, both inducing a double play), and one strikeout.

In the 8th inning, young fire-baller Taylor Rogers found out major league hitters can hit fastballs. The young lefty struggled with his control, hitting the first batter he faced, and falling behind in the count which led to three consecutive hits (2 doubles) that allowed the Red Sox to re-take the lead at 6-5.

Credit Rogers for settling down and getting out of the inning, stranding runners at 1st & 2nd with no outs, inducing a pop-out, liner, and finishing with a strikeout.

Holding the line in the top of the 8th inning allowed for an exciting 9th inning finish.  J.T. Chargois pitched an effective 1-2-3 top of the 9th to keep the Twins within one run. After a Joe Benson single to lead off the bottom of the 9th, manager Paul Molitor decided to play small ball to try to gain at least a tie. Heiker Meneses sacrificed Benson to second, and Red Sox manager John Farrell countered by walking Ryan Sweeney to set up the double play.

Next: Minnesota Twins Morning News: Spring Training Day Twelve

Instead, Carlos Quentin was hit by a pitch, loading the bases with just one out. Danny Santana grounded to a drawn in infield, forcing Benson at home for the second out. Non-roster invitee James Beresford then hit a liner that short-hopped Marco Hernandez at short, but Hernandez was able to make the play for the final out at first, dashing the hopes of the 8,131 on hand for Hammond Stadium’s first game.

Today, Tommy Milone is the starting pitcher as the Twins play in Bradenton against the Pittsburgh Pirates.