Hughes, Benson go deep in win over Tigers
In second spring start, Hendriks yields two runs in four innings
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Andy Oliver battled his command in his first rough afternoon of the spring, which might shed a different light on the battle for the Tigers' open rotation spot. Oliver's five walks were overshadowed by a Luke Hughes three-run homer as the Tigers suffered a 7-3 loss to the Twins on Wednesday afternoon at Joker Marchant Stadium.
The loss was just the third for Detroit, albeit the club's second in three days. It was also the first blemish for Oliver in what has been shaping up as a talented competition with Duane Below and prospect Drew Smyly for the fifth-starter job.
Oliver needed just 11 pitches to retire the Twins in order in the first inning, but a Danny Valencia single leading off the second and a four-pitch walk to Ryan Doumit set up Hughes' opportunity. Oliver had thrown six straight pitches out of the strike zone with a 2-0 count to Hughes, drawing pitching coach Jeff Jones out of the dugout for a visit.
Oliver recovered to get the count full, then left a slider in the zone for Hughes to drive over the left-field fence for his second spring home run.
The rest of Oliver's outing saw him in and out of the strike zone with his pitches, while struggling to find the right pace in his delivery.
Three straight walks in the fourth, including eight straight balls to Hughes and Joe Benson, ended Oliver's outing with two outs in the fourth. He threw exactly half of his 62 pitches for strikes. Adam Wilk escaped that jam, but gave up a Chris Parmelee RBI triple and a Benson two-run homer in the fifth.
Delmon Young's fifth home run of the spring, a line drive to the left-field berm off Twins prospect Liam Hendriks, gave the Tigers' portion of the crowd a reason to cheer before Minnesota pulled away. Austin Jackson's leadoff single and stolen base put him in position to score Detroit's opening run in the first.
In his second spring start, Hendriks gave up two runs on four hits over four innings. Competing for a rotation spot if Scott Baker isn't ready to go, Hendriks struck out two and didn't issue a walk.
Up next: Carl Pavano will make his fifth start as the Twins return home to Hammond Stadium to host the Orioles on Thursday. It will be Pavano's second outing against Baltimore. On March 7, the right-hander gave up one run on six hits in three innings. Game time is 12:05 p.m. CT.