Game 9: Pelfrey strong but Twins falter in loss to Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Right-hander Mike Pelfrey tossed three scoreless innings but the bullpen struggled in a 7-2 loss to the Rays on Sunday at Charlotte Sports Park.

The loss was the second in a row for the Twins, who fell to 5-4 in Grapefruit League play.

What went right: Pelfrey, who had Tommy John surgery on May 1, gave up just one hit — a double to Evan Longoria — and a walk while throwing 39 pitches with 24 going for strikes. He credited pitching coach Rick Anderson for fixing his mechanics, as he fared better than his first outing when he gave up three runs on five hits against the Blue Jays on Tuesday.

It was definitely the sharpest he’s looked this spring, as his command was much better and said he saw a difference in the movement of his pitches. His fastball was at 88-89 mph but said he expects his velocity to get better as Spring Training goes along.

Right-hander Trevor May was the only other Twins pitcher to throw a scoreless inning but even he walked two batters.

Third baseman Trevor Plouffe went 2-for-3 with an RBI single to right field and is now hitting .400 this spring. Second baseman Brian Dozier went 1-for-3 with a double and scored on Plouffe’s single in the fourth inning. Mark Sobolewski drove home the other run with an RBI double in the ninth inning.

What went wrong: The offense didn’t do much, as left-hander David Price essentially dominated the Twins for three innings. He struck out five and allowed only one hit on a single from Ray Olmedo.

The bullpen also struggled, especially right-hander Jared Burton, who gave up three runs on four hits in his one inning of work to see his ERA balloon to 10.13 in 2 2/3 innings this spring.

Right-handers Alex Burnett and Casey Fien also gave up a run in one inning in relief. And prospect B.J. Hermsen gave up a two-run shot to Chris Gimenez in his Grapefruit League debut. Hermsen, who was the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season, has had a rough time in his first year in big league camp, as he’s also struggled in “B” games.

What they said: “It’s always good to walk off with good results but at the end of the day I walked off the field and felt good. And at this stage that’s the biggest thing.” — Pelfrey said.

What’s next: Right-hander Cole De Vries makes his first Grapefruit League start on Monday against the Cardinals in Jupiter in a 1:05 p.m. ET start at Roger Dean Stadium. De Vries is aiming for a spot in the rotation after being a pleasant surprise last season with a 4.11 ERA in 17 outings with the Twins. Right-hander Lance Lynn is slated to start for St. Louis.

Injury update: Left-hander Rafael Perez (shoulder) played catch from 90 feet on Friday and will progress from there. … Right-hander Rich Harden (shoulder) is playing catch from 150 feet and the Twins plan to take it slow with him.

Rainbow on back fields

Rainbow on back fields

Rainbow over Charlotte Sports Park

Rainbow over Charlotte Sports Park

Twins taking batting practice

Twins taking batting practice

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