Game 19: Benson, bullpen carry Twins to win
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Joe Benson hit a go-ahead three-run double off the Green Monster, and the bullpen was solid yet again to help lead the Twins to an 8-4 win over the Red Sox on Monday at JetBlue Park.
Minnesota improved to 11-8 with the victory, which was their fourth in a row. They have an off-day on Tuesday before traveling to Lakeland to face the Tigers on Wednesday.
What went right: The Twins had 14 hits, including Benson’s pinch-hit three-run double off Red Sox reliever Mark Melancon in the sixth inning. He went 1-for-3 on the day and is hitting .308 this spring.
He’s certainly making a case to make the club, but it’s much more likely Trevor Plouffe gets the nod as the club’s fourth outfielder because he’s out of options and Benson needs to get regular at-bats at Triple-A.
Jamey Carroll showed signs he’s getting over his early slump, going 2-for-3 to raise his batting average to .172 after entering Sunday’s game with a .043 average.
Joe Mauer also picked up his second extra-base hit of the spring with a double off the Green Monster in the first inning.
Ben Revere went 3-for-3, including a bunt single and a double, and is hitting .393 in Grapefruit League play. Danny Valencia also picked up two hits while Chris Parmelee, Ryan Doumit and Matt Carson doubled.
Relievers Jared Burton, Alex Burnett, Jeff Manship and Anthony Swarzak each threw a scoreless inning. All are top candidates to make the bullpen out of camp.
What went wrong: Justin Morneau went 0-for-2 with a walk to see his batting average tumble to .100 this spring.
He has yet to collect an extra-base hit in 30 at-bats, but said he’s starting to get his timing back despite the fact it’s yet to show up in the results.
“It’s gotten better,” Morneau said. “It’s not where I want it to be yet. The swing’s getting better. The swing feels a lot better than it did when I first got down here. It’s a process, it’s moving along. I just have to keep telling myself that it’s slow, and just because it’s not here now doesn’t mean it’s not going to be here a week from now.”
Right-hander Jason Marquis wasn’t exactly sharp, allowing three runs on five hits, two walks and a hit batter over four-plus innings. But he also wasn’t helped out by Jamey Carroll and Alexi Casilla failing to turn two double plays early in the second inning.
Reliever Kyle Waldrop allowed his first run of the spring, as Peter Hissey doubled and Alex Hassan singled in the ninth inning. But to Waldrop’s credit, he bounced back after that, and the game wasn’t exactly close when he came in for the ninth.
What they said: “We had lots of nice swings,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I’m not sure how many hits we had but we had a bunch of them and some near misses. Guys are getting after it. Good to see Benson put a nice 0-2 swing on it.”
What’s next: The Twins have an off-day on Tuesday, but return to action on Wednesday with right-hander Liam Hendriks set to start against the Tigers at 12:05 p.m. CT in Lakeland. Hendriks has yet to allow a run in seven innings this spring. Left-hander Andy Oliver starts for Detroit.
Injury update: Twins right-hander Scott Baker (elbow tendonitis) got through his 47-pitch bullpen without any issues. He’s scheduled to throw in a Minor League game on Thursdsay. … Outfielder Trevor Plouffe said his strained right hamstring is feeling better, and that he hopes return sometime this week. … Left-hander Phil Dumatrait is dealing with some tenderness in his left shoulder.