Game 18: Liriano dominant in win over Pirates
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Left-hander Francisco Liriano tossed five no-hit innings and the Twins allowed just one hit in a 10-0 win over the Pirates at Hammond Stadium.
The Twins improved to 10-8 with the victory, and make the short trek to JetBlue Park to face the Red Sox on Monday at 12:35 p.m. CT.
What went right: Liriano looked the best he has all spring, walking just one and striking out six over five no-hit frames.
So far, Liriano has struck out 18 and walked just two in 13 Grapefruit League innings. It’s a great sign for the Twins, who need him to pitch like he did in 2010 after struggling last season with a 5.09 ERA.
Jeff Gray, Sam Deduno and Casey Fien also threw no-hit innings, while Luis Perdomo served up the Pirates’ lone hit in the eighth inning. Brandon Boggs picked up the one single with one out in the eighth, but was thrown out by Brian Dinkelman while trying to advance to second base.
The offense also looked good with 13 hits and 10 runs, as they scored five runs in both the second and seventh innings.
Jamey Carroll, who entered hitting just .043 this spring, went 2-for-3, including a two-run double down the right-field line in the second inning. Brian Dozier hit his first homer of the spring to lead off the seventh, while Ray Chang added a two-run double.
Alexi Casilla, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Trevor Plouffe and Joe Benson each picked up an RBI on the afternoon.
What went wrong: Not much, considering the Twins outplayed the Pirates in just about every aspect of the game.
Mauer and Morneau combined to go 0-for-5 but both had RBI groundouts in the second inning with the infield playing back. Danny Valencia went 0-for-3, including a strikeout to end the first inning with the bases loaded.
Perdomo gave up the lone hit by the Pirates, but didn’t allow a baserunner to reach, as Boggs was thrown out at second.
What they said: “I said all right, I’m going to go home and hit my dog. And he goes, your dog doesn’t have anything to worry about, you won’t be hitting it too hard,” Carroll said about a funny exchange he had with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire earlier this week after another hitless game. “I needed to hear that, so it was good. I don’t have a dog, so all the animal-rights activists, it’s just a joke. But you need to hear that. You get frustrated. You want to contribute, especially on a new team. You want to play well, and I think it’s a matter of just trying to relax a little bit and let it come.”
What’s next: Right-hander Jason Marquis is set to make his fourth Grapefruit League start on Monday against the Red Sox at 12:35 p.m. CT at JetBlue Park. Marquis has allowed nine runs over 8 2/3 innings this spring. Right-handers Alex Burnett, Jared Burton, Anthony Swarzak and Jeff Manship are also scheduled to pitch for the Twins.
Injury update: Right-hander Scott Baker (elbow) faces a big test on Monday, as he’s slated to throw a bullpen at the club’s Spring Training complex before they travel down the road to play the Red Sox. Baker is expected to ramp up his intensity after throwing at about 75 percent on Saturday. … Outfielder Trevor Plouffe exited Sunday’s game against the Pirates in the seventh inning with a strained right hamstring. It’s not serious but he’s expected to be held out through at least Wednesday.