Game 1: Span, Mauer, Morneau lead Twins to win

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins opened up Grapefruit League action with a 7-3 win over the Rays at Hammond Stadium.

It was a big day for Denard Span, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, who combined to go 4-for-8 with two RBIs. But more importantly, all three have been healthy so far in camp, and got through the first game without any issues.

What went right: Mauer picked up his first RBI of the spring with a sharp single up the middle off Rays right-hander Jhonny Nunez to score Alexi Casilla.

Span looked good at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two singles, and made two acrobatic catches in the outfield, even though he fell down on both plays.

And Morneau added an RBI on an opposite-field single with the shift on and two outs in the fifth inning.

Danny Valencia also showed some opposite-field power with a double to the warning track in right field in the fourth. A few reserves also fared well, as Michael Hollimon plated the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded single in the sixth. Joe Benson also added a sacrifice fly and Tsuyoshi Nishioka went 2-for-3 with a triple and an RBI.

Left-hander Brian Duensing was impressive, getting out of a one-out jam in the third inning after a triple by B.J. Upton before tossing a scoreless fourth frame. Matt Capps, Glen Perkins, Alex Burnett and Matt Maloney each tossed a scoreless inning in relief.

What went wrong: Not much, but right-hander Carl Pavano did give up a two-run homer to Matt Joyce with two outs in the first inning after falling behind 3-1 in the count. Pavano settled down to allow two runs on three hits over two innings with a strikeout.

Jamey Carroll was also hit in the helmet by a pitch from David Price in the first inning, but said the ball only grazed his helmet and was OK.

What they said: “I’ll take it,” Morneau said about his RBI single. “I’ll definitely take it. Runner on third, the third baseman has to be over, gives you a lot of room. I’ll take it. Not a bad start to the first day.”

What’s next: 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 start against the Rays in back-to-back starts, 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. Only Mauer, Morneau, Span and Josh Willingham won’t play tomorrow.

Injury update: Infielder Luke Hughes is expected to make his debut tomorrow as a designated hitter against the Red Sox. Hughes, who is recovering from a strained right shoulder, took batting practice for the first time yesterday.

Photos from today:

1 Comment

Didn’t see or hear the game, just read the play by play afterwards. Sounded like Nishioka had a good game, too. Here’s hoping he’ll have a bounce back year!

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