Host of Twins get spring started on right note
Mauer, Morneau, Span shine in Grapefruit League opener
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau both delivered RBI singles to help lead the Twins to a 7-3 win over the Rays on Saturday at Hammond Stadium in the Grapefruit League opener for both teams.
Matt Joyce, named an All-Star for the first time last year, crushed a 3-1 pitch from Twins right-hander Carl Pavano with two outs for a two-run homer to right in the first inning to score B.J. Upton, who doubled earlier in the frame.
"I didn't really expect that," Joyce said. "... Carl just kind of fell behind, and usually he's really good with his control. So I think that was a big factor, him falling behind, which he never does. Just got to get a pitch to hit.
"Coming back to the plate, Joe Mauer said, 'Don't peak too early.' I'm going to try and keep it going."
Pavano, who is slated to be Minnesota's Opening Day starter, went two innings, allowing two runs on three hits with one strikeout. The Rays' David Price, meanwhile, didn't allow a hit in his one inning of work, but did hit Jamey Carroll in the helmet with an errant fastball. But the fastball only grazed Carroll's helmet, and he stayed in the game.
Mauer opened the scoring for the Twins in the third inning against Rays right-hander Jhonny Nunez with an RBI single up the middle to plate Alexi Casilla.
"It was a good first day to hit the ball on the nose and hit with a guy on base," Mauer said. "It's fun getting back out there and playing games, and getting that arenaline going. Every year that first game is kind of nice to get under your belt."
Justin Morneau added an RBI single in the fifth inning against Rays right-hander Alexander Colome to tie the game at 2. Center fielder and leadoff hitter Denard Span went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles.
The Twins took the lead in the sixth with three runs against right-hander Albert Suarez. Michael Hollimon hit an RBI single with the bases loaded, before Joe Benson added a sacrifice fly and Tsuyoshi Nishioka grounded into an RBI forceout.
Up next for the Rays: Jeremy Hellickson will make his first start of the spring on Sunday at Charlotte Sports Park. The reigning American League Rookie of the Year is firmly entrenched as the third starter in the Rays' rotation. Rays fans will also be able to get a look at the newcomers to the Rays bullpen: Fernando Rodney, Burke Badenhop and Josh Lueke. Each could play a significant role in this year's bullpen.
Up next for the Twins: The Twins have split-squad action on Sunday, as left-hander Francisco Liriano is slated to start against the Red Sox at JetBlue Park, and right-hander Terry Doyle is scheduled to pitch against the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. It was a last-minute switch by the Twins, because the club didn't want Liriano to have back-to-back starts against the Rays, according to pitching coach Rick Anderson. Anderson will be on hand to watch Liriano pitch against the Red Sox, while manager Ron Gardenhire will travel to Port Charlotte.