FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano couldn't have looked much better than he did against the Pirates on Sunday at Hammond Stadium.
Liriano didn't allow a hit over five innings, while striking out six and walking just one. He's struck out 18 and walked just two over 13 innings in Spring Training.
Liriano, who has a 2.77 ERA in Grapefruit League play, said he's most proud of his improved control this spring.
"Yeah, limiting walks, trying to go deeper in games, throw less pitches per batter and trying to throw first-pitch pitches for strikes," Liriano said. "I hope they swing early like they were today. And I'm locating my fastball better than last year, too."
Pitching coach Rick Anderson said one of the keys to Liriano's spring success has been his increased usage of his changeup. The pitch helps him slow down his mechanics, while also becoming an out pitch to go along with his slider. Liriano used his changeup 19.5 percent of the time last year, and his slider 28.9 percent of the time.
"I think Joe [Mauer] does a great job of slowing him down, and you can see that with his changeups," Anderson said. "The changeup slows him down, and you saw that today. When he stays on-line and stays tall and on top of pitches, he's pretty good."
Carroll lays cold streak to rest
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jamey Carroll was fully aware of his struggles at the plate heading into Sunday's game against the Pirates.
The shortstop entered the game with just one hit in 23 at-bats, but went 2-for-3 with two RBIs against the Pirates in the Twins' 10-0 win. He snapped his recent funk with an infield single in the first inning, before hitting a two-run double down the right-field line in the second.
"I couldn't tell you the numbers, but I knew that I only had one hit," Carroll said. "So I don't know how many at-bats, but obviously you want to play well and do as good as you can regardless of how early. I'm just thankful to be able to kind of contribute a little bit today. Hopefully today's the start of something good."
Carroll said one of the few positives he's taken at the plate this spring is that he has walked four times. Carroll, who is expected serve as the club's No. 2 hitter, combined to post a .368 on-base percentage over the last two years with the Dodgers.
"I take a lot of pride in my approach," Carroll said. "I try to take pitches and try to work counts. I've had at-bats where I've had good pitches to hit, but I've been off a little bit on them. So that's more frustrating. But a few times I've had some 0-2 counts and worked some walks that are meaningful to me in more ways than one. I feel like I'm seeing the ball well. I'm just not putting it into play as good as I should be."
Capps, Perkins get work in 'B' game
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Before the Twins hosted the Pirates in a Grapefruit League at Hammond Stadium, the two teams played each other in an eight-inning "B" game on a practice field at the Lee County Sports Complex.
Twins closer Matt Capps started the game, and tossed two scoreless innings. He allowed one hit, walked none and struck out two while throwing 26 pitches, including 19 for strikes.
Left-hander Glen Perkins surrendered a run in his one inning of work before giving way to Brendan Wise, who threw two perfect innings.
A few Twins Minor League pitchers also saw action, including right-handers Brad Thompson and Daniel Turpen.
Thompson left early after being struck on the wrist by a line drive, but said he was OK after walking off the field. Turpen, acquired in the trade that sent Kevin Slowey to Colorado, threw a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.
On the offensive side, Sean Burroughs and Matt Carson both doubled. Ryan Doumit and Tsuyoshi Nishioka also singled for the Twins. Brian Dinkelman added an RBI groundout. But the Twins ultimately lost, 3-2, as the Pirates scored two runs in the eighth.
Plouffe leaves with strained hamstring
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins outfielder Trevor Plouffe exited Sunday's game against the Pirates in the seventh inning with a strained right hamstring, according to general manager Terry Ryan.
Plouffe hit a RBI single with one out in the seventh, but was removed for pinch-runner Ben Revere after feeling tightness in his hamstring.
Ryan said the injury is not considered serious, and that Plouffe will be held out until at least Wednesday as a precaution. The Twins have an off-day on Tuesday.
Plouffe went 2-for-4 with an RBI on Sunday, and is batting .276 in Grapefruit League play.