Game 23: Morneau, Hughes power Twins in rout

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins put on an offensive display in an 19-4 win over the Rays on Saturday at Hammond Stadium, as they had 18 hits, including five homers.

Justin Morneau hit two blasts while J.R. Towles, Luke Hughes and Chris Parmelee also homered.

What went right: Morneau was able to build on his double against the Yankees on Friday, as he homered twice off Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson.

Morneau went 2-for-2 with a walk to raise his batting average to .154 in 13 Grapefruit League games.

He hasn’t played first base since March 13, and there remains a chance he could start the season as the club’s designated hitter. He said after the game that he’s open to that possibility if it helps the team, but that he’d rather be the club’s starting first baseman.

Chris Parmelee continued to make his case to make the roster, as he made his first start in right field and homered. He’s now hitting .316 with three homers, a double and a triple in 14 games.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan wouldn’t rule out Parmelee breaking camp with the Twins, even though he’s yet to play at Triple-A. In that scenario, Parmelee would see action and first base and right field with Morneau mostly serving as DH.

Hughes also solidified his status on the roster, going 5-for-5 with a homer, two doubles and five RBIs. He also played shortstop for the first time this spring.

Towles homered off Hellickson, and just missed another one in his next at-bat, hitting one off the left-field wall.

Joe Mauer went 2-for-4 to raise his average to .333. Denard Span went 1-for-3 with two RBIs, Jamey Carroll went 3-for-4 and Josh Willingham went 1-for-3.

Left-hander Matt Maloney tossed two perfect innings with a strikeout to keep his ERA perfect at 0.00 this spring.

What went wrong: Not too much, but starter Jeff Gray did allow two runs on two hits, walk and a hit batter over two innings.

Gray started in place of right-hander Jason Marquis, who missed the start because he was home in New York attending to a family issue.

Closer Matt Capps allowed a run in his one inning of work, while right-hander Alex Burnett surrendered a run over two innings. Danny Valencia was the only Twins starter not to get a hit, but did walk twice and two score runs.

What they said: “It feels good,” Morneau said about his two homers. “It’d be nice to have it on Opening Day. It’s one of those things where you don’t necessarily need to hit home runs to know where you’re at. I think that ball that I hit to center yesterday that didn’t get out was as good a swing as any I’ve had all spring. And when you take a swing like that it kind of lets you know you’re getting close to where you want to be. Today was just a better day. It feels good and lets me know the hard work is starting to pay off.

What’s next: The Twins travel across the state to take on the Cardinals in Jupiter on Sunday with right-hander Nick Blackburn slated to make the start. Blackburn has been impressive this spring, as he’s yet to allow a run over seven innings in Grapefruit League play. Brian Duensing, Kyle Waldrop and Jared Burton are also scheduled to pitch for the Twins. Former Twins right-hander Kyle Lohse starts for St. Louis.

Injury update: Twins right-hander Scott Baker (elbow tendonitis) threw a bullpen without any issues and is scheduled to start on Monday against the Rays. It will mark Baker’s first Grapefruit League start . … Outfielder Trevor Plouffe (strained right hamstring) is likely to play in a Minor League game on Monday.

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