03/06/12 7:45 PM ET
Baker sharp in debut, Twins beat Rays
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Minnesota is now 3-2 this spring, while Tampa Bay is 0-4.
Scott Baker made his first spring start, after going 8-6 with a 3.14 ERA for the Twins in 2011. The righty looked sharp, allowing only a walk to Jeff Salazar in two innings pitched.
"I threw just a few off-speed pitches," said Baker. "Obviously, everybody's seen out there that the wind was blowing 100 miles an hour. I don't care if it's Spring Training or not. When you're working on things, you'd be crazy not to take advantage of that. Throw it over. In situations like [when] you've got two strikes, why would you try to throw a breaking ball and let a guy get a bloop hit instead of throwing a fastball up and potentially popping it up. There's just not a lot he can do other than pop it up. So it's just things like that. For the most part, I got the work in, felt good and I'm happy with it."
Jeff Niemann made his first start of the spring for the Rays. The 6-foot-9 right-hander has been in the starting rotation for the past two seasons, but he finds himself in a competition this spring with Matt Moore and Wade Davis to earn a spot in this year's rotation. Only two of the three hurlers will make in the rotation.
Niemann got into early trouble when Ben Revere and Jamey Carroll cobbled together singles to start the Twins' first. Niemann's errant throw to second on a pickoff attempt allowed the runners to advance to second and third. Revere then scored on Ryan Doumit's groundout to first to put the Twins up, 1-0.
Niemann then added a 1-2-3 second inning before calling it a day.
"It was good to go out there and get a full two innings of work in," Niemann said. "... I threw everything today and everything went pretty well. I just have to work on the fastball command like always, and everything else is feeling pretty good, right now."
Jhonny Nunez took over for Niemann in the third, and the Twins loaded the bases with two outs after a single and two walks. Danny Valencia's infield hit drove home the Twins' second run and shortstop Sean Rodriguez's throwing error on the play allowed another run to score to put the Twins up, 3-0.
Up next: Right-hander Carl Pavano is set to make his second Grapefruit League start of the year on Wednesday against the Orioles at 12:05 p.m. CT at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. Pavano allowed two runs on three hits over two innings in his Spring Training debut against the Rays on Saturday. Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen will start for the Orioles. The Twins are also scheduled to host a "B" game against the Red Sox at 9 a.m. CT at Hammond Stadium. Joe Mauer is set to play first base, Justin Morneau is slated to serve as the designated hitter and right-hander Nick Blackburn is scheduled to start.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.