Morneau, Mauer, Hughes power Twins to win
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Justin Morneau and Luke Hughes both homered, and Joe Mauer added three hits to lead the Twins to an 11-7 win over the Phillies on Wednesday at Hammond Stadium.
The Twins go for their third win in a row on Thursday, when they travel to Bradenton to face the Pirates.
What went right: Morneau continued his impressive stretch, going 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs.
Morneau, making his 10th straight start at designated hitter, is hitting .471 (8-for-17) with three homers, two doubles and nine RBIs over his last five games.
It’s certainly a good sign for the Twins, but they’re still not saying whether he’ll start the year at DH or at first base. But it’s becoming more and more likely he’ll begin the season at DH.
Mauer also had three hits, including an RBI single in the fourth inning. He’s now batting .340 this spring.
Hughes hit his team-leading fifth homer of the spring in the Twins’ seven-run fourth inning. He’s been crushing the ball this spring with a .375 batting average, and is all but guaranteed a spot on the team. He also saw his first action in left field.
Left-hander Francisco Liriano was solid, allowing two runs on seven hits over four-plus innings. More importantly, he walked just one batter and has a 2.45 ERA with 26 strikeouts and just four walks in 22 innings this spring.
Left-hander Brian Duensing tossed two scoreless innings in relief of Liriano, and has allowed just one run this year.
What went wrong: Glen Perkins and Matt Capps both threw on consecutive days for the first time this spring, and struggled.
Perkins allowed three runs on three hits in the sixth inning. But he did strike out two batters.
And Capps gave up a run on two hits in the eighth to raise his ERA to 4.00 this spring. Alex Burnett gave up another run in the ninth and now has a 7.88 ERA.
What they said: “I’m going to buy M&Ms on the way home because I feel so nostalgic,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said when asked if Mauer and Morneau’s big day reminded him of the good old days. “Nostalgic? To me, the good old days were the 70s. So, no, they don’t remind me of the 70s.”
What’s next: Left-hander Matt Maloney is scheduled to make his first start of the spring on Thursday against the Pirates in Bradenton at 12:05 p.m. CT. Maloney, who is competing for a spot in the bullpen, has been perfect so far this spring with a 0.00 ERA in 11 1/3 innings. Right-hander Jared Burton is also scheduled to pitch for the Twins. Right-hander James McDonald gets the start for Pittsburgh.
Injury update: Outfielder Trevor Plouffe (strained right hamstring) went 4-for-4 with three homers and a double in a Triple-A game on Wednesday … Infielder Sean Burroughs received good news, as an X-ray exam on his left forearm came back negative. He’s day to day. … Outfielder Josh Willingham returned to the lineup after tweaking his ankle before Monday’s game against the Rays.