Games 12/13: Twins earn split thanks to Hicks’ big day
Center fielder Aaron Hicks was the star of the day, as he went 4-for-5 with three homers, six RBIs and a stolen base in the win against the Phillies. The Twins are now 7-6 in Grapefruit League play and have their first night game Friday against the Red Sox at JetBlue Park.
What went right: Hicks has had an excellent spring and put together an incredible performance at Bright House Field. All three of his homers came from the right side of the plate with his first homer and his third homer going to right field.
The wind was blowing out to right field but it’s still impressive for him to hit two homers to the opposite field. You can watch all three homers, as the game was televised by Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia.
He’s definitely the heavy favorite now to win the center field job even though he’s yet to even play at Triple-A Rochester. But keep in mind, Opening Day is still more than three weeks away and things can change.
Trevor Plouffe also had a nice day at the plate in Fort Myers, going 2-for-3 and is hitting .417 this spring. Eduardo Escobar is also making a case to make the club as a utility infielder and went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .350.
Right-hander P.J. Walters also fared well in relief against the Red Sox, throwing two scoreless innings. He hasn’t given up a run in five innings so far in Grapefruit League play.
Relievers Ryan Pressly, Pedro Hernandez, Luis Perdomo and Tim Wood combined to throw 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Phillies. Wood struck out the side and bounced back from his rough outing against the Rays.
What went wrong: Both starting pitchers struggled, as Kevin Correia gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits over 2 1/3 innings against the Red Sox and Kyle Gibson surrendered six runs on eight hits over 2 1/3 innings against the Phillies.
Correia, though, pitched better than his line score indicated, as he wasn’t helped by his own throwing error and a fly ball that was lost in the sun by Joe Benson in center field. It wasn’t a great day for Benson, who went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. Fellow outfielder Brandon Boggs also struck out four times.
Gibson was hit hard in his worst outing of the spring, and now has a 10.50 ERA in three starts. He’s still trying to make the rotation but outings like this aren’t helping his cause.
Reliever Caleb Thielbar was also rocked, as he gave up five runs against the Red Sox, including a two-run double to Dustin Pedroia and a three-run blast to Mike Napoli.
B.J. Hermsen, the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season, continued his struggles this spring, as he allowed three runs (two earned) in one inning and has a 13.50 ERA.
What they said: “I heard. It was awesome. The clubhouse kids keep us in the loop, especially when something like that happens. It’s a positive note. It’s good to hear.” — bench coach Terry Steinbach on Hicks’ big day in Clearwater.
What’s next: Right-hander Mike Pelfrey, who is coming off Tommy John suurgery, is slated to make his fourth Grapefruit League start on Friday night against the Red Sox in a 6:05 p.m. start at JetBlue Park. The game is also set to be televised by FOX Sports North Plus. Right-hander Ryan Dempster is scheduled to start for the Red Sox.
Injury update: Right fielder Chris Parmelee was a late scratch with tightness in his right groin area. The Twins are expected to hold him out a few days for precautionary reasons. … Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia is hoping to get in his first Grapefruit League game on Sunday. He’s been out with a strained intercostal muscle. … Darin Mastroianni (left hamstring) said he’s been cleared by team doctors to return to action but hasn’t heard officially when he’ll get back in the lineup.